Even if you're glad it happened, a job loss can really, really hurt. It's easy to lose your financial and emotional balance during this life transition — but it doesn't have to be that way. Consider these tips.
1 Stay calm. It's normal to experience a period of grieving after losing a job, but try as hard as you can not to dwell on scary worst-case scenarios. Remind yourself that you're going to survive this.
2 Remain clear about what you have to offer. Negativity can hurt your job search more than you might realize. If you have a tendency to beat yourself up, change your line of thinking by considering all the ways you could help a future employer succeed. Write down a list of your greatest strengths and past workplace victories if that will help. By doing this, you'll come across as confident and upbeat instead of dejected and desperate in interviews.
3 Consider any and all possibilities. If you've lost a white-collar job, you can hurt your chances of finding employment if you're only willing to seek out the exact type of work or the same pay. Be open to working for smaller companies, and don't view blue-collar or service-sector work as beneath you. No job has to last forever.
4 Watch your spending, but still have some fun. Be careful not to spend money on things you don't truly need right now. Monitor your expenses for a few weeks so you can see where you can cut back. Don't eliminate all forms of recreation from your life, though; you need such outlets to maintain perspective and a positive outlook. View it as a challenge to find fun things to do for little money, such as matinee movies, happy-hour or early-bird specials, or free walks and bike rides in gorgeous spots.
5 Visit the unemployment office. You may feel reluctant to collect unemployment benefits, but you're entitled to get help through this form of insurance. Also, be sure to make the most of any and all severance benefits you can possibly receive.
6 Be cautious with credit cards. Remember that building up debt will only add to your stress — and you don't need any more stress right now. In fact, this is an excellent time to contact all of your creditors and talk with them about coming up with temporarily reduced payment plans until you find another job. Many lenders are likely to cooperate.
7 Look into a home equity line of credit. If you own a home and you can see that a job loss might affect you in the near future, consider opening a home-equity line of credit before you lose your job. This line of credit is something you would want to tap into only as a last resort, but it can give you peace of mind to know the money's there if you need it. The interest rates on such lines of credit are often lower than the rates on many credit cards — and of course, if you never borrow any of the money, you'll never have to pay any interest.
8 Get on the same page with your partner. A job loss can lead to money-related fights that could put a strain on your relationship for months — if not years — to come. To prevent this, talk honestly about your situation and your financial priorities. Devise a plan to cope as a team in the coming months.
9 Safeguard your self-esteem. Remember that all sorts of workers lose their jobs for all sorts of reasons — and many of those reasons are beyond their control. The tanking economy has hurt thousands who didn't do anything wrong. If you did make some mistakes in your last job, go ahead and learn from them — but don't stay stuck in the past.
10 Focus on the potential before you. Were your past job-related decisions unwise, or maybe even unhealthy, for you? If so, set new and better goals for yourself. You could even consider turning what you do for a living into your own business or into work that you do on a contract basis so you can be your own boss and set your own hours.
Laura T. Coffey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sources: Monster.com (www.monster.com); Myvesta Foundation (myvesta.org/pubs/pdf/job_loss.pdf)