In the aftermath of a mining slowdown and little other economic growth in Western Australia there are going to be a lot of changes to the job market including increasing redundancies, unemployment and lower incomes. These situations can lead to the loss of purpose and identity, as well as financial uncertainty which makes facing unemployment, expected or not, a very stressful experience.
Losing your job can force you to make rapid changes. Beyond the loss of income, losing a job may also mean loss of your professional identity, lower self-confidence, loss of your daily routine, work-based social network and sense of security.
“It’s not just the tasks and the responsibilities that the person has been displaced from … they’ve potentially been displaced from social networks and a purpose, so it’s a bit like a bad break-up with a partner,” says Dr Joanne Earl to the SMH.com.au, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of NSW.
It’s common to feel hurt, vulnerable, or angry after losing a job, although not everyone experiences these emotions.
Regardless of your initial reaction, it’s important to find ways to get back on your feet as quickly as possible, for both you and your family’s financial and emotional benefit.
Here are 14 things you can do to help take control of the situation, stay financially well, reduce stress and find a new job, if that’s what you want.
1. Look For The Silver Lining
Look for the silver lining in the situation: Has your job loss and unemployment given you a chance to reflect on what you want out of life and given you the opportunity to rethink your career priorities? Were you happy in your career? Is there something you have always dreamed of pursuing, or perhaps just a different organisation to work with?
2. Work Out Your Financial Position
Once you know where you stand, you will be able to make a decision on the best way forward. Take a stocktake of where you are financially. This may include listing your savings and working out your Budget to work out what position you are in and how you will cope financially.
Knowing your financial commitments may give you some clarity on how long you can remain unemployed without changes to your current lifestyle, what income you may need going forward and what type of work you should be looking to secure.
Knowing how much you really need to survive might allow you to pursue a lower paying job that other recently unemployed people won’t pursue because they are holding out for a higher paying role like their last one.
3. Review your Spending
A job loss is often a motivator to revisit where your money is really going. Although it can be uncomfortable, a budget planner helps you calculate your income needs and identify current spending habits. It may be necessary to consider changing your spending habits, even temporarily. You may be surprised how much “extras” add up to and how much you can save by cutting back. Changing habits won’t necessarily be easy, but developing new disciplines will benefit you well into the future.
Importantly, try not to use your credit card to fund any shortfall in your spending. Your credit card might be helpful for emergency expenses, but using it as a replacement wage to fund other expenses can lead to debt blowouts very quickly. Check out our budget planner and savings tips for some ideas on how to create a budget and save money.
Remember to look at options like deferring payments, payment plans and other options before cutting expenses. Remember this should be temporary so you don’t want to have to pay too much in cancellation or restarting fees. Also be careful cancelling important costs such as Insurances.
4. Talk about it
A natural reaction is to withdraw or resist asking for help but don’t try to shoulder the stress of your job loss and unemployment alone. Emotional support can make a big difference when dealing with unemployment. Be willing to seek out support from family and friends, but remember sometimes they won’t really understand what you’re going through.
Depending on the situation, you may benefit from seeking professional advice as this can accelerate your transition. There are many people sharing their stories and seeking help at www.beyondblue.org.au.
5. Check if you’re entitled to any payments from your previous employer.
Under Australian law you may be entitled to payments from your employer. These can include accrued leave entitlements, redundancy payments and unpaid superannuation contributions.
If your unemployment is a result of a redundancy, it would be worth reading our ‘Receiving a Redundancy? ’ article.
Make sure you familiarise yourself with your entitlements and check you’ve received (or will receive) what you are owed.
6. Investigate Government benefits and financial support
If you’re not entitled to a redundancy or termination payment and don’t have much savings to support your period of unemployment, you may be entitled to the Government Emergency Relief program. The program, run through a range of organisations across Australia, provides assistance with food, transport, and chemist vouchers, assistance with rent and accommodation, utility bills, and clothing.
You may also be entitled to Government assistance whilst you look for replacement work. There are a range of payments designed to support job seekers and families on a low income. All payments have waiting periods and specific eligibility criteria, but are designed to help people get back on their feet, or support them whilst they are actively seeking permanent employment.
Their are also training programs and other opportunities such as support to help you setup a small business idea.
To start with, visit Centrelink to find out what you are entitled to. It is important to know that you can earn nearly $500 per week each person before you lose your entitlement to Newstart allowance. It is important to always check even if you are earning some income.
7. If necessary, talk to your lenders or bank
As a general rule when you are having problems paying your commitments, it is better to speak to the people you owe money to rather than avoid them, particularly if they have security over your home or car. Explain your situation and discuss your repayment arrangements. Some lenders will provide you with a short-term break on repayments or can work with you by providing extended repayment periods. Some utility providers such as electricity, telephone and other services may also offer assistance with repayment periods if you are upfront with them about your situation.
8. Review Your Super and Insurances
Some employers arrange for insurance cover for employees to be owned within their super fund. The insurance premiums are then typically paid out of the Super Guarantee contributions made by the employer on the employees behalf.
If you have employer-sponsored life, disability or salary continuance cover then it’s important to check whether this insurance cover will continue now you have left your employer. Some super funds provide a continuation option for members. This mean the policy can be retained by transferring it and paying for premiums from your personal cashflow, new super fund or personal contributions to superannuation.
It’s important you check this option as early as possible as it’s generally only offered for a limited period.
Ceasing employment with an employer is also an opportune time to review your superannuation fund. Depending on your age and several other factors, many strategic financial options arise upon losing a job making it well worth seeking personal advice. If you are a member of a corporate super plan, then some changes may be necessary.
Also if you have personally owned insurances such as Trauma and Income Protection it is important to ask if there is any options to freeze, waive or defer payments as some products have this as a feature. Also some insurances may cover the cost of mortgage or other loan payments for a period whilst you are unemployed.
9. Make finding a job your priority
If you’re looking to find new employment, being proactive is very important. Register with recruitment agencies and search job vacancy websites and boards. Some companies also have career pages on their websites.
Identify prospective companies you’d like to work for and contact them directly. Use your work and social networks to put the word out that you’re looking for work, and tell them what type of work you’re looking for.
With technology, job hunting goes beyond newspaper ads and recruitment agencies. The popularity of social networking platforms are increasing employment opportunities by allowing the unemployed to network with employers and the market directly.
If you use social media, make sure your profiles are consistent and up to date. If you want to stay in your own industry and work with one of your former employer’s competitors, you may not need to change any of your profile wording. However, you may want to consider a “rebrand”, which means rewriting your profiles and previous job descriptions towards what you want to do next.
10. Network – Face to Face
Whilst connecting with potential employers and other contacts online is important, equally important is to meet people face-to-face and develop relationships with them. As you know that say “Its not what you know but who you know!”
Networking may be the best way to find a new job as a large percentage of job roles aren’t advertised but are filled by word of mouth. Networking is about building relationships. These relationships can provide much-needed feedback, advice, and support as you look for a new job.
Find out where the people you want to work for hang out and find out how to get there too. Is there an Industry event, a social event or club they attend such as Rotary?
11. Consider part-time work
Getting casual, part-time or temp work while you look for another permanent job can be a good way to boost morale and provide some financial relief. Even if the job is short-term, it may be a good way to boost your income, gain new skills or experience and make new connections.
Combining some income with Newstart allowances and savings could keep you going and will also keep you more active and reduce stress which may help you locate a full time job.
Consider registering with temp agencies, approaching local businesses or asking friends and family if they know of any job vacancies.
12. Arrange a Clear Out/Clean Up/Cash Up
If you have a bit of extra time on your hands, have a clean out at home. You could either sell (garage sale or eBay), donate or throw out rarely used or unwanted items, which will help you rid your home of clutter and potentially earn some extra money for those items you sell. Having a clean and organised home environment can also leave you feeling refreshed.
13. Look after Yourself
When faced with unemployment you may find yourself falling into a bit of a rut.
Focus on maintaining some routine to look after yourself. Regular exercise, good sleep and healthy eating can help you feel more confident, boost energy and help you gain and maintain a positive outlook and attitude.
The job hunting process can be discouraging but be patient and don’t give up. A positive attitude goes a long way toward securing a new role.
Facing unemployment can be a challenging time but don’t lose sight of the fact that it can also provide an opportunity for personal growth and new direction.
14. Learn from the experience to improve your future
And finally when you do secure a new job, don’t fall back into your old routine and bad money habits.
You have learned how to live on less, do you need to spend as much as you used to now you are employed again? So as not to be in this situation again you can concentrate on building up at least 3 months of expenses in emergency savings, reduce debt and start building your investments to help support you if this ever happens again.
Job security is not what it used to be and the leaner you are financially the easier it will be for you to move through career changes with less stress in the future. Given the way technology is disrupting entire industries overnight it is more important to ever to live well within your means and use your surplus income to improve your financial future.