Tips in a Tough Job Market

The job market is not getting any easier for the first quarter of 2008. According to the U.S. Department of Labor U.S. jobs have decreased by 5.1% or 80,000 in March 2008.

If you’ve just lost your job, the decisions you make in the coming days and weeks may be critical to your financial survival. How you organize your time, corral your resources and handle your money will help determine whether this job loss is a temporary setback or a potentially life-changing disaster.

Here are some tips to get you through the rough waters of today’s job market;

Take a little time. Take a week or even two to lick your wounds and to re-center your focus on work search.

Get your head straight. Stay positive and keep your energy high. Surround yourself with what you really need, your own career coaching team consisting of family and friends.

Apply for unemployment benefits. The earlier you apply, the earlier you’ll get your first check. Your state may have a two or three week waiting period based on when you file, not when you lost your job. If approved, the unemployment check will not cover your lost income but it will certainly help.

Update your resume. Update your resume to include your most recent work history. Your local unemployment center will offer workshops on resume writing and assist you with this if needed. They normally have various training classes that can help you to sharpen your skills. Consider using a resource such as http://www.job-hunt.org/ that offers job support.

Schedule your job search. Get up early, take a shower, put on nice clothes and schedule your day. Having a schedule will keep you moving forward. Schedule time to research job opportunities, to submit resumes, for interviews and to network.

Network, network, network. Let people know how to find you. Your business and professional contacts may have only your work e-mail address and telephone number. As soon as possible, send a short e-mail to all of your contacts letting them know your personal e-mail and phone number. Mention the change in your job status (something like, “Because of staff reduction at ABC Company my last day is…) You can follow up later with more-personal notes to key contacts to let them know you’re looking for work.

Stay covered. If you had health insurance through your job, you should be able to purchase continued coverage under COBRA rules, but that can be an expensive way to go. Fortunately, you usually have 60 days to sign up under COBRA, so you don’t have to decide right away. If you get another job quickly, you may not need the coverage. Check with your State’s Social and Health Department for health insurance or referrals to affordable coverage, you may qualify.

Track your spending. You no longer have the luxury of not knowing where your money is going. Keep track of every cent, at least for now. You can do so in a variety of ways: with a notebook and pencil you carry with you everywhere, using one of our Spending Plan templates and guide, etc. You will find this in the first Chapter of Investing in Yourself, our on line class on Setting Your Financial Goals and Making a Budget. Our classes are free and can be found at LINK. Once you know where the money is going, you can look for ways to cut back.

Get your priorities straight. List your bills and other spending in order of importance. The items at the bottom of the list should be pretty easy to trim. You also should find savings by cutting back on items such as groceries, dining out, utilities and transportation.

Make a “If Things Really Get Bad” list. Tops should be holding on to the roof over your head (the mortgage or rent), keeping the lights on (utilities) and ensuring you have transportation to get to job interviews (car payments and insurance). At the bottom should be your unsecured debts; credit cards, student loans and other personal debt that paid for stuff that can’t be repossessed. Don’t forget about those luxury items like; cable or satellite television, cell phones, gym memberships and subscriptions.

Remember, missing credit card payments may result in a ding on your credit and phone calls from creditors, but skipping mortgage payments could leave you homeless.