Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Prepping for Unemployment

When the question of "What do you prep for?" is posed to me, one of my top responses is always "Unemployment". I work in construction, so layoffs and work slowdowns are a very real part of my life. This was driven home last week, when I found myself suddenly unemployed.

So, how exactly does a person or family prep for a job loss or layoff? Most of this is just basic financial strategy, but sadly many folks, especially younger folks, aren't taught this except at the school of hard knocks. If you can learn these lessons and put them in place when times are good, they'll already be working for you when things get bad.

1) Build Savings: A bit of money in the bank does several things for you when you find yourself faced with a job loss, or any other financial crisis. Primarily, it numbs quite a bit of the fear of crisis by giving you some time to sort matters out and solve the problem. It can also smooth over smaller bumps in the road, keeping them from becoming a crisis. Knowing that you have a bit of savings and time can also help you stay calm while job hunting, hopefully helping you to interview well.

You don't have to develop massive savings overnight; just dedicate a portion of your monthly budget to savings, whatever you can afford. Obviously, the more you can budget to savings, the faster your savings will accumulate. It also helps to have a savings goal in place, but what that goal is will depend on your needs and circumstances.

2) Budget: Having all the neat prepper toys is nice. If they put you in the poor house, however, they're no good to you. Set a budget each month, accounting for all your regular bills, as well as setting money aside for savings, prepper supplies, and any other goals you have. List all your income and all your bills, and then find a place and a purpose for any extra dollars of income you have left.

3) Cut Debt: Cutting debt reduces how much you have to pay out each month, which is a big plus when you're un- or under-employed. A lower outlay also frees up more money in the monthly budget for savings or other needs. Spend less on credit and pay a few dollars extra on your credit accounts each month, if you can.

4) Network: Make and maintain contacts with people in your industry. This is particularly important in a small or narrow field; someone is always hiring, and multiple people keeping an ear to the ground are far more likely to find openings than a single person. In particular, they may be aware of soft openings, where a job isn't openly posted and actively hiring, but a boss would be interested in finding room for the right talent.

Join professional organizations in your field, and be active within them. In addition, keep any training, licensing, and certifications up to date.
5) If you do find yourself unemployed, make job hunting your full-time job. Contact your state workforce services office. Most of them have websites with all of their listings, as well as providing job and interview training courses. Let the folks in your network know you're looking. If you're in school, check with your advisers. Just like with any other job, the harder you work at it, the more successful you'll be.

As for me, don't worry.  I fell back on my network, called an old boss, and didn't miss a day of work.  The rest of the framework kept me calm and collected, and allowed me to form a plan, make the necessary phone calls, and be working the next morning.


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