Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of American citizens have lost their jobs due to budget cuts, business closures and government-ordered shutdowns. Employees who have spent years climbing the corporate ladder or building a stellar reputation as a reliable worker have seen that crumble almost immediately. For many, it may seem "unfair" or that their lives as they know it are over.
Because of how common furloughs and company shutdowns have become, it's important to know your rights as an employee. From filing a wrongful termination claim to unemployment benefits you aren't taking advantage of, you may be missing out on key information that can save valuable time, money, and energy. If you've recently lost your job, learn about the top 5 things you should be doing during this turbulent time.
Sign up for Unemployment Benefits: As soon as you are notified that you have been fired, laid off or furloughed, look into your state's unemployment benefits plan. While the extra $600 per week benefit has recently expired and the government is currently working on another plan to supplement the state's payout, having some sort of income is ideal to pay some of your bills and take some of the stress off.
Stay in Touch with Your Network: While it's normal to feel like hiding away after such a traumatic event, it's important to not only stay connected with your current network of coworkers and acquaintances, but reconnect with others in your career field. Use tools such as LinkedIn or your former school's alumni portal to reach out to potential references or connections. According to studies, roughly 85% of jobs are found through networking.
Brush Up on Your Skills: There is no better time to learn a new skill than while you're searching for a new job. Look for valuable certifications or programs that would make you a top candidate in the field you are looking at. In addition to learning new skills, take on freelancing jobs related to what you do in order to get more experience in being a versatile worker.
Educate Yourself on Employment Laws: As many states consider their employees to be employed "at will", it's important to learn about the employment laws in your state. According to a Phoenix employment lawyer, "At will" means an employer can terminate the employee for "good cause" or "no cause". By having some idea of how the employment laws in your state works, you can better defend yourself in case your termination was not handled properly and know your rights walking into a new position.
Mourn, then Move On: As with the end of any long-term relationship, we all need time to grieve the loss of a job. A job isn't only a source of income but in many cases, it's like a second home, a second family, and overall, your identity. So take a few days and wallow in self-pity and then get back up on that horse. It's time to be positive, look towards the future, and dig deep and think about everything you'd like your next job to be.
Let's be honest - this is a weird time in the world. None of us know what will happen next and it can be pretty daunting to say the least. If you've lost your job due to issues beyond your control, it's important to be grateful for the things you do have while preparing yourself to be the very best version of you.