So, you're newly unemployed. You're freaked out and nervous and have no idea what's going to come next. How are you going to survive?
Here are the first five things you should do after a layoff to keep yourself on track.
1. Take a Deep Breath
I'm serious about this one. It's the most important step. Sure, you've lost your job and you have no way of knowing what will happen next. The best thing you can do is stay calm, take a deep breath, and don't let anxiety take over. And every time you start to stress out about your lack of work, pause and take another deep breath. Remind yourself that it's going to be OK. Because it is. I promise.
2. Apply For Unemployment
In most states you can apply for unemployment online. Use this online map at the U.S. Department of Labor to find your location and apply.
When you apply for unemployment, you are going to need a few things, so make sure to gather them before you start the application process. Generally you'll need your W-2 from the last tax season, your dates of hire and layoff, and often a state drivers license/ID number. Some states offer direct deposit, so make sure to have your bank info ready as well.
3. Make A Budget
Seriously. Your income is a lot smaller now and your expenses are certainly not. Gather all your bills and your most recent bank statement and make a budget. Figure out how much you spend on the basics-rent/mortgage, utilities, food, gas, etc.-and see how it adds up according to your new, lower take-home.
This is the time to figure out where you can cut expenses (entertainment, dining out, and cable/satellite TV are usually the first places you should look to cut) and to really think about what you absolutely must have.
While you're at it, put those credit cards in a drawer. Keep them around in case of an emergency, but don't carry them in your wallet. They are begging you to spend money you don't have.
4. Make A Schedule
And stick to it. It's too easy to let the day slip by, drinking coffee and watching daytime TV, when you don't have to be at work. Don't let that be your everyday. To avoid depression during these long, unemployed days, keep a schedule, just like you would if you went to the office. Make time for exercising, checking e-mails, applying for jobs, and running errands.
Leave some time for fun. Take advantage of the finer things your city has to offer-go to museums and galleries, head to the park or the beach on a weekday-and enjoy all those hobbies you didn't have time for when you were working. You'll have a job before you know it and wonder why you didn't.
Since you were just laid off, you probably haven't taken a good, hard look at your résumé in a while. Make sure that the new version of your resume is filled with actions and accomplishments from your past jobs. It's more important to highlight what you actually accomplished than a laundry list of your day-to-day responsibilities.
Many communities offer resume help, free of charge. Your state unemployment office should have a listing of all these resources.
Just remember. Take a deep breath. It's going to be just fine.