The Ultimate Guide to Unemployment

I've been laid off twice in my career so that basically makes me an expert at unemployment. Here are a few things I've found to be helpful when you find yourself unemployed. 

Be Sad, but be Civil

You've just found out that your job is "letting you go." Your mind is racing. You're thinking about your severance. You want to know how much you're going to get and when you're gonna get it. You're wondering why you have been forsaken. And you're just really fucking sad. All of that is perfectly reasonable and expected, but you have to realize that there is a human person sitting right in front of you. Often times they didn't make this decision, they're just the bearer of bad news. So be nice to that person and every person you talk to on the way out the door. Thank them for the opportunity and shake their hand. Don't burn any bridges. These people are usually the ones who help you get your next job. 

Take your time

Day one of unemployment is THE WORST. You're used to your routine and now you have all this extra free time. While you might want to jump right back into work and start leaning on your contacts and applying for jobs just wait a little while. Clean up your house. Go for a hike. Do something you normally wouldn't. As Americans, I know we rarely take the time to enjoy the world we live in. Take this time to enjoy life. Sleep in a bit longer than you usually would. Go meet new people. Relax. Everything will be okay, I promise. 


Update Your Book

I work in the creative side of advertising (that's why you're reading this on my fancy website). As a creative type, I can tell you we all need a portfolio to showcase our work. If the job you have doesn't require you to have a portfolio feel free to ignore this advice.

Okay, now that it's just us creatives, isn't our job awesome?! We really have the best job in the world. I often find myself giggling while writing because I can't believe I'm being paid for this. Anywhoo, update your book. You're going to be applying for jobs and you want to make sure you have everything in there that you've worked on. 

Budget. Budget. Budget

Oh yeah, that weird money thing. You really have to figure out how you're going to financially survive for the next few months. If you're lucky enough your company gave you some sort of severance package, which usually can help out with your expenses. My advice is to go on unemployment. The stigma kinda sucks, but they'll literally pay you to find a job. And (at least in Texas) you can collect unemployment while collecting your severance because they don't count severance as income. So there, you just got a raise. You're welcome. 

Finding a job is your new job

Yup. You don't have to spend 8+ hours a day looking for work, but this is a good way to frame it mentally. If you make finding a job your job you'll spend more time doing it, you'll research new opportunities, you'll reach out to your contacts and connections, you'll scour LinkedIn and other job boards and you'll just all around be better at it. 

Netflix can be your friend, but not your best friend

It's usually around day 5 or 6 that you are just sick of not having anything to do, so you decide to hop on Netflix and see if you can distract yourself for a few hours. That's fine, but don't fall into the Netflix trap. It will ruin your productivity and probably make you even sadder. There are only so many times you can binge watch Parks and Rec before it becomes a cry for help. 

Keep your mind & body active

This is some muy importante advice. It's so easy to just fall into a rut of feeling sorry for yourself and rewatching David Spade movies.

Keep your mind active by writing, drawing, learning a new language (see what I did there), reading books and challenging yourself to think differently. If you don't want to do any of those things you can easily keep your mind active by keeping your body active. Run, bike, hike, climb, do yoga, swim, kayak, etc etc etc. Keeping your mind and body active will help you stay positive. Having a positive attitude is probably the best thing you can do when looking for a new job. 

Keep Your Chin Up

I know the sentence before this one literally says, "have a positive attitude," but it's so friggin importante (hey I did it again) I thought I should reframe and repeat. You're going to hear no way more times than you hear yes. Don't be discouraged by the amount of times you've heard no. Keep your chin up and keep moving forward. 

Say Thank You

Whether you're asking a friend to help you out or you're replying to an email where someone told you that the job was taken, say thank you. It's a nice thing to say, people like hearing it, and most of all, it makes you look nice. So thank people for their time and consideration. Nothing bad has ever happened by saying thank you.*

*I didn't fact check this, but surely it's right. Right?

Put on Pants

Even if it's the only thing you do that day, put on a pair of pants. Mentally speaking, it prepares you for the day ahead. It means you're going to get something done. Pants are a powerful tool in your arsenal, use them wisely. 

I sincerely hope none of you reading this ever have to deal with being laid off, but if you do, I hope you find this helpful.