As millions of people become unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic, an overwhelming situation gets bleaker. Losing a job is stressful under any conditions, but it certainly feels compounded when you add markets coming to a halt, not being able to meet new employers in person, and the roller coaster of unknowns.
Luckily, there is immediate aid available and steps to take to enhance your acumen for when the world is able to go back to post-pandemic life. Jump into ClickEasy to get your business website online in less than a minute and display your skills. And who knows, you may find a silver lining in being able to offer your skills and service to your local community.
1. Apply for unemployment benefits
If an employer temporarily closed due to COVID-19, or an employee is quarantined but intends to return to work, or an employee has left work temporarily to care for a family member - you may qualify for unemployment benefits.
Additionally, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package signed into law on March 27, expands these unemployment benefits. For part-time employees, freelancers, independent contractors, gig workers, and folks who are self-employed - they are now eligible for benefits with a $600 per week federal payout on top of state benefits through July 31. Unemployment benefits vary by state. Check with your state’s unemployment website, visit the DOL’s CareerOneStop site.
In order to file, you need the following information: Social Security number, home address, telephone number, email address, your bank name, address, account number and routing number (for direct deposit), your recent employer's name, address and phone number, first and last day worked with this employer, reason for leaving, and any severance package or pension information.
Your first deposit will be received within two to three weeks of filing your claim, but prepare for delays as millions of people are filing right now. It can take days to finalize your unemployment claim by phone, but you will get through.
2. Contact banks and lenders
It's worth reaching out to companies you pay regularly to see if they will waive or reduce fees for a time. While many financial institutions are already deferring payment on personal, auto, and home loans - be proactive on other bills such as utilities, Internet, or other. It doesn't hurt to ask, and it's being seen that most companies are understanding and being as accommodating as possible.
3. Recalculate your finances
Even as your unemployment benefits trickle in, take a look at your typical spending and set up a budget for yourself. If you live with your family or partner, consider ways you can contribute, or if you're alone, see how far you can support yourself on unemployment. If you have savings, see how much you are willing to dip in and what you are comfortable cutting out - such as subscription boxes and memberships. There is so much free entertainment and resources online to keep you engaged.
4. Turn to your community (in real life and online)
Many communities are coming together to offer free meals, not just for students but for anyone who needs it. There is also help for anyone feeling unwell who needs groceries delivered. Now is a great time to be a good neighbor, from 6 or more feet away.
There are 10 million people (and counting) in the United States currently unemployed essentially overnight. You're not alone in feeling panicked, stressed, depressed and more. Lament with this community online, check in with your past co-workers, trade stories on how to get through to the unemployment office, and find solace in this new community. You also may find opportunities arise as you converse and see gaps that you can fill.
5. See where you can be of service, right now
If you're eager to get a new role, even if temporary, there are many booming businesses right now desperate for people to help. Grocery stores, delivery services, , insurance, retail and banks are hiring, such as: Kroger, Unilever, Wells Fargo, and Healthfirst. IT, software, and virtual operations support need more people to help with the increase of buying and browsing at-home. Check out companies such as Spectrum, Intuit, Cisco Meraki, Asana, and Peloton. Maybe the Department of Labor can hire more people to answer the phone so everyone can have quicker access to unemployment benefits?
Or, consider launching your own small business, offering your services and skills to anyone on an individual basis (for now, online).
6. Take time to evaluate your career
When the dust has settled, take time to reflect on your career thus far, the companies you have worked for, and what about the employer-employee experience you have enjoyed or want to change. Not every day has to be productive, and it is a luxury in it of itself to have a choice in your next job. But while half the world is "on pause" maybe you will find some clarity on how to approach life after the pandemic.
7. Enhance your online presence
As more and more nonessential workers and businesses are asked to close shop and stay home, it's a great time to do a few professional things that can boost your career in the long term (in between Tiger King episodes, naps, and taking your imaginary dog for a walk). Start with a website for your resume or portfolio. Buy a website domain name, and make yourself shine. A website for yourself is impressive to future employers and is really empowering and exciting to own. Send that site to everyone you know!
Get in touch with old supervisors, coworkers, even strangers - the online community is bursting with positivity and helping wanting to help or connect in this bonkers time. Even if you hate LinkedIn, finish that profile finally. You simply never know who you'll come across and how your personality and skills can be utilized.
8. Participate in conversations about your industry
Take a break from national news, charts and graphs about when this is going to end (because the answer is still, no one knows), and start reading about how your larger industry is faring, as well as your local industry. While, it may seem dreary on a national level - there is so much innovation, flexibility, and community generosity happening at a small business level. From online fitness courses, online education, to new take-out menus, delivery wine, creative writing email newsletters, and arts and crafts exchanges - there is a lot of positivity too.
Find the positive highlights and share this with your world. Encourage these businesses and people to continue, proving that every small act of kindness is seen and appreciated. You can be a part of it.
9. Boost your skills
As you create your website and explore new social media platforms, there are also incredible resources online, for free, that you can explore. Khan Academy, edX, Coursera, Udemy, TED-Ed, Codecademy, Stanford Online, just to name a few. Give it a whirl, or maybe take an online class with a friend or family member - a good way to bond and take your mind off COVID-19.
10. Provide support for others
At times it may seem like you're the only one struggling, and especially during social distancing - you are physically isolated. But as you go through the stages of losing your job, applying for unemployment, talking to your network, tapping into new interests, taking naps, riding the hourly roller coaster of emotions, and getting into a temporary routine - you will enter a phase where you can offer support and kindness to others.
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