Sometimes a job loss comes as a surprise. Someone from HR meets you at your desk with a box of your things, takes your badge, and walks you to the door. Other times, you may have a few weeks or even months to prepare.
Losing your job can be devastating. But being prepared can help your finances stay afloat through a period of unemployment, and sometimes your job being yanked from underneath your feet can be just the push you need to change your career. If you know a job loss is in your future, here are a few things you can do to prepare to weather the storm.
Get your emergency fund game strong
Most personal finance experts recommend having at least 3 to 6 months of expenses in cold, hard cash sitting in a bank or somewhere else easily accessed. If you do become unemployed, this cash can help keep you afloat.
And while it’s not ideal, you can check your 401(k), employee stock purchase plans, and other investments to see what the withdrawal rules are and how your termination may impact them. These options may give you some wiggle room if you need cash to keep you afloat while you’re looking for a new job.
Make a plan for health insurance
Most of us have our health insurance through our employer. If you lose your job you may be able to switch to a spouse’s health insurance plan if your job loss counts as a qualifying event, or pay COBRA premiums for a few months until you’re able to get a new position with a new health insurance policy in place.
Another option might be buying your own individual health insurance policy to help bridge the gap. Health insurance is expensive no matter what option you choose, but having an expensive medical emergency while you’re unemployed and uninsured can quickly sink an already tenuous financial situation.
Brush up your resume
If it’s been a while since you dusted off your resume, now is the time to give it a makeover. Refresh your resume to get your job search on the right track. And while you’re at it, audit your social media presence, including any public profiles.
Contact your network
Once you have a fresh resume, reach out to your network to let them know you’ll be looking for work soon. Contacts from previous jobs, mentors, or other people you know from your community can help you find opportunities before they come out on job boards. Leverage your network as much as possible
No one wants to lose their job, especially with short notice. But being prepared can help reduce the stress you’ll experience while you’re looking for a new job. Jumping into action gives you something to do besides worry and is a good way to keep moving forward even in the face of a job loss set back.