Losing a job can cause embarrassment, anger, frustration and a whole lot of worry. If you find yourself in this situation, the mixture of emotions can make it difficult to see the solutions in front of you, but trust me, they are there. I know from experience! When the 2008 Recession hit, I lost a job that I loved. That blow, combined with a nasty credit card scam, caused me to lose my home, my savings, my good credit and, most importantly, my confidence. These setbacks seemed insurmountable until I remembered that no matter where I stood, I had the power to take control of my financial life and change my future — we all do!
With some time, education and determination, I climbed my way back to financial health and now help over 800,000 women do the same. Here are my best tips and tricks to move forward with confidence after a career setback:
Drop down to your noodle budget
What is a noodle budget? It’s your financial baseline. It’s the lowest amount of money you can spend monthly in order to maintain your necessary expenses. It’s the eating ramen noodles, deleting streaming subscriptions, no-frill life. You will be surprised at how many expenses you are able to cut out of your monthly budget when you (temporarily!) set aside unnecessary luxuries. Even if you have a prepared emergency fund for situations like this, cutting back on day-to-day spending will allow that reserve of money to stretch further or remain partially untouched once you find a job.
In some cases, particularly for those without robust savings, a noodle budget can involve making some larger sacrifices. For me, this meant moving in with my family to avoid costly rent payments. Other ways to cut down on high-impact expenses include giving up car rentals, club memberships or planned vacations. Over one fourth of Americans do not have an accurate idea of where they stand financially. Taking a big-picture review of your spending and savings will help you discover the control you still have over your finances, despite uncontrollable circumstances. Making changes will provide further security and peace of mind as you look for new employment.
Make looking for a job your full-time job
It’s easy to want to sleep in after losing a job, but after a day of reprieve, it’s essential to regain energy and begin a determined search for the next position. Resist the urge to start your day later or end your day earlier. Your new full-time job should be looking for employment. Sometimes this is better done from a local library than at home, creating a routine in which your job search is separated from home life and providing a welcomed change in surroundings. Use this time to scour LinkedIn, revamp your resume and write compelling cover letters. Were you a hard worker at your last job? Keep that same energy.
Just as most work can only be completed with the help of colleagues, finding a new job is not something you can do alone. Use this time to connect with friends, old co-workers and potential references. Attend networking events and put the word out there that you are available for a new career opportunity. Many new positions are found by word of mouth, and it is always helpful to have a connection at the company walking into the interview.
Consider pivoting careers
The freedom that comes with unemployment has its benefits. This is the ideal time to reflect and ask yourself if your current career path is really where you want to be. Perhaps you have strengths your former position underused or neglected entirely. Re-examine the aspects of your old job that you most enjoyed and consider tangential careers that offer more of those qualities. Speaking informally to people in different professions about their job satisfaction and setting up informational interviews with companies that are in line with your passions will give you a good sense if a career change is right for you.
There is nothing like losing a job to help reset your life. The key is not to get discouraged. We all have the ability to learn new strategies and continue thriving financially, personally, and professionally despite setbacks. When I lost my job as a school teacher during the Recession, I pivoted by combining my natural aptitude for teaching with my financial knowledge to start my own business — and the rest is history. Are you ready to re-write yours?
Tiffany Aliche is a Budgetnista and Financial Wellness Advocate for Prudential Financial.