1. File for unemployment insurance benefits

If you lost your job through no fault of your own, you may be eligible for up to $363 a week to help support your income until you get employed again. Normally, benefits are available for up to 26 weeks, but high unemployment has prompted Congress to extend payments.

Consult the Department of Labor

Record volumes have caused some application delays. Your best bet is to file by computer.

If you file your initial claim by phone, avoid high-traffic times early in the morning, early in the week and noon-hours. Here are the phone numbers to call to claim unemployment insurance benefits:



2. Compose yourself

Grieve briefly, if you must. Embrace your family and friends. Dust yourself off so you can move on with a positive outlook.

Reflect on what you have done that you feel good about, both at work and outside of work.

Set emotions aside and maintain a calm and professional demeanor with your employer. Seek a positive referral letter as part of your separation. Fully understand the options and benefits and assistance available through your former employer.

This employee benefits guide from the  Development can help you understand your benefits package. Download it in Spanish here.

Get organized. Clear some work space at home and create files to help keep track of your finances and benefits and job hunting materials.



3. Get help

Do not go through job loss and the transition of finding new work alone. You have plenty of company out there, and there are lots of resources – many free – to help you cope with unemployment and seek a new job.



4. Watch your money

Gather recent bills and receipts and look at your bank accounts to sort out where your money has been going. Carry a notebook and keep track of every dime you spend.

Fill out the worksheets listed below from the Consumer Credit Counseling Service. If your expenses surpass your expected income, don’t deepen your debt. Enlist your family to find some spending to cut.

If your drop in income jeopardizes your ability to keep up with debts, complete this creditor list and consider contacting creditors using this sample letter.




5. Preserve your retirement savings

Fight the temptation to fund your layoff with your pension or 401(k). Besides stealing from your future, you could lose money from additional taxes plus penalties.




6. Take care of your health

Use your job loss as a motivation to establish a healthier lifestyle.

If you lost medical insurance with your job, see if you can get coverage through your spouse’s employment.

If not, you can consider buying individual insurance, which generally is more expensive than a group policy but can be cheaper if you’re relatively young and healthy.

If you have existing health problems, check out the costs of continuing coverage through your recent employer’s plan. Such COBRA insurance can be pricey, but it helps protect you from major medical expenses.

Certain dislocated workers qualify for the federal Health Coverage Tax Credit to help afford COBRA costs.

Another option if you have existing conditions is the state’s Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan.




7. Represent yourself

A first step toward finding your next job is to reflect on and articulate what you already have accomplished.

Get ready for job hunting by creating a résumé as well as an “elevator speech,” a brief pitch that you could make for yourself if you happen to get on an elevator with a hiring manager. You have to sell yourself as a job prospect before the doors open.



8. Network

The surest way to find a job is through personal connections — if not someone you know, then someone who knows someone you know.

Socialize, volunteer, attend events. Get involved with the growing number of job clubs and support groups at churches and Job Centers. Exchange information on job leads and contacts. Circulate yourself as a job prospect and see how you can help others.



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