Preparing for Unemployment and Managing Job Search

Most of us would have been unemployed at one time or another in our lifetime. Given the economic climate and many recent announcements of layoffs, your unemployment whether expected, or hitting you out of the clear blue, may last awhile. With this possibility in mind, what can you do now to preserve and protect your family and your lifestyle, should you find yourself suddenly unemployed? In an article written by Susan M. HeathfieldHuman Resources Expert, she identified twelve tips to help you prepare for unemployment while still employed. Below, I have outlined some of these tips to help get you prepared for job loss, while at the same time get you ready to find a new job:

Save Money – Recognizing that this is easy to say, your best strategy to meet unemployment is to have money in the bank. Statistics shows that the average person who loses his/her job has less than a couple of weeks of savings in the bank.

Websites devoted to saving money abound and are worth your review. At, a variety of suggestions are offered frugal living to financial planning, as examples.

Delay Major Purchases – If you have any inkling that you may lose your job, or even if you don’t, now is the time to delay major purchases which are unnecessary. When stores start offering options such as payment plans and lay-away, run, don’t walk in the opposite direction.

Live on One Salary – For a family in which two or more members are employed, consider trying to live on one salary to build savings, eliminate debt, and prepare for the potential consequences of unemployment.

Use Credit Cards for Emergencies Only – Unless the item is essential, and you’d be surprised how few items are actually essential, control the urge to purchase using a credit card. The purchase price always comes due and the interest adds up to more than you ever imagine.

Credit is the main factor in families living too close to the edge in the event of unexpected unemployment. In the unemployment stories featured on Alison Doyle’s job searching site, the readers who shared their unemployment stories cite credit card debt as one of the deepest holes they had to climb out of when they became unemployed.

Stay Prepared to Job Search – Get advice on updating your resume. There are effective ways to present yourself so that you get noticed. Interview preparation is key to being selected. It is better to hold off and be ready for an interview instead of damaging your first impression with a recruiter. If you have been out of the job market, become familiar with on-line application process and interview questions from recruiters. Do not try to “wing it”. If you have been given “Notice” that you will be terminated, check with your HR representative whether you will be provided with outplacement services.

Your resume and references should always remain up-to-date. You never know when you’ll need them and you don’t want to spend the first potentially productive days of your unemployment updating application materials and contacting references. Likewise, maintain your network of contacts while you are employed. Stay active in professional associations so you’ll be the first to know of job openings and receive leads via word-of-mouth.

Prior to unemployment is also the time to build your professional presence on social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. If you do not have an existing account on these sites, learn about the social norms of being a member of these groups and seek help to set up your account. It can take time to build an effective brand online and to do the networking necessary to expand contacts. In addition, contact/meet with a with job placement agency recruiter to learn about their services.

It is a common fact that recruiters looks for current experiences to match their job requirements. Stay marketable. Colleen McKenna, LinkedIn outlined 37 Ways to Stay Marketable.

Create Mobility Options – Explore relocation and long commute opportunities. While many of you are tied down with homes, family, social commitments, a partner’s job, and more, in the event of unemployment, flexibility and mobility may make the difference between staying unemployed and finding a new position. Prepare for unemployment by maintaining as much flexibility and mobility as possible, if only by charting out “what if” scenarios as opposed to “we can’t” scenarios when discussing your future with your family.

Broaden Your Skills – Working on your degree or certification sounds proactive and says something about your willingness to stretch, grow, continue learning, and develop further knowledge and skills. In the event of unemployment, education may give you an edge. As you prepare for unemployment, consider the possibility that a job may not be available in the field or occupation of your choice. To prepare for such a contingency, you can broaden your skills and references by using a bit of spare time to volunteer, or better yet, work part time in a different field. Become familiar with the programs and services that Government Agencies. Canadians can visit Service Canada; for information on provincial programs.

 Managing Job Search

 “Every experience in your life is being orchestrated to teach you something you need to know to move forward.” –Brian Tracy

If you fail to find new opportunities and you now have to leave your place of employment, take advantage of the benefits included in your termination package. Many organizations include Outplacement Services. Outplacement Services help avoid the “emotional roller coaster,” the feeling of a sense of loss and fear about the future during career transitioning. Your employer cares and is doing what they can to assist you to find work.

Advantages of Outplacement Services – Typically, outplacement services provide the following services:

  • Resume review and revision; cover letter review and revision; interviewing techniques; interview role plays; personality test; career evaluation and guidance; job Search skills; one-on-one and/or group coaching; customized packages at multiple levels to serve a diverse group of employees; a high quality of training and support materials; referrals to experienced financial advisors to ensure their financial well-being.

What to do while waiting to hear back from Recruiters. Waiting to hear back from recruiters can be stressful. Here are some tips to help you manage stress and wait times:

  • Follow up with Recruitersbut do not act desperate if they do not respond.
  • Make use of your benefit (health and dental) plan before they expire.
  • Stay healthy and active.If your termination package does not include these benefits, try affordable options. Most community centres are equipped with pools, saunas and fitness centres. Fees are considerably low, $2 for 60-90 minutes-session of pools, saunas, skating rinks or $7-9 for membership multi-use, including fitness centre and other activities.
  • Avoid financial worry.It is a leading cause of stress. For those of you who have equity and savings, you will find that your hard work and effort to contribute to these savings will come in handy. Do not feel guilty if you have to use some of this to get you through tough times. Discuss managing bills with your family members and if possible, engage their support.
  • Take up a hobbythat is not costly. Now is the time to catch up on reading, writing, hunting, fishing and those activities you never had the time to do. Community libraries offer free rental on books, DVD’s, various magazines and best of all on-site use of computers and laptops.
  • Connect with your professional groups. Attend professional and social networking events. See the Top 15 networking sites Join local meet-ups groups, visit family and friends.
  • Do not give up. Searching for a job is like a job itself. Dedicate a portion of your day every day to search and apply for new opportunities, as well as, connect with others in your groups.

If you will not receive outplacement services, Government Agencies and Service Canada offers a wide range of services that are similar for free. In addition, many employment agencies are willing to assist with job coaching and resume writing.

  • Consider career change and self-employment.You can use your severance package to invest in a new business. Make sure that you seek advice. Refer to for tips on starting a business. It is beneficial to also connect with a mentor as you will need advice along the way. Contact your local Small Business Enterprise Centre or your employment agency for information. Canadians can refer to or more information on provincial programs available.
  • Volunteering has many benefits. Stay engaged – be part of your community. Volunteering has proven to increase self-confidence, combat depression, and can help you stay physically healthy:
  1. Increases motivation and sense of achievement. Volunteering increases social and relationship skills.
  2. Boost your career options and learn new valuable skills.
  3. Diversify your life.
  4. Experience life to the fullest. Volunteering has proven to enhance the feeling of fulfillment and happiness.
  5. You meet new people and make lasting friendships.
  6. Inspire others. Share your experiences and your skills.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. – Winston Churchill

At Forward Thinking HR Services Inc. we can assist with free one-on-one mentoring and coaching to help you move forward in your job search. Contact us if you need help at

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier

Good Luck with your job search!

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