Events, features and things to do for families in New Hampshire
By Bridgette Springer
You need not be an economist to know we live in tough economic times. With talk of recessions, drought worries, rising oil prices, shopping slumps, and hectic unemployment rates making nightly headlines, it’s hard to get away from financial doom and gloom. Hence, it is no surprise job security is questionable, with no one being immune to the dreaded, “Can you come into my office for a moment,” conversation.
Getting laid off can be a blow to the ego for sure, but more important is having a plan to get you through some tough months when income becomes uncertain, especially when your family’s well-being is dependent on your earnings.
Step 1: Register with the unemployment office
Getting back on your feet after losing a job can be both emotionally and financially draining. Once the initial shock subsides however, it’s time to consider your options and most importantly be proactive so you are ready when it comes to positioning oneself in front of potential employers.
“Get in emergency management mode,” said Steve Davis, Director of Operations at Staffing Sense in Stratham. “A lot of people who have never been laid off before will panic.”
According to Mr. Davis, the very first step one should take when experiencing a layoff is to contact the New Hampshire Unemployment and Securities Division (nhes.nh.gov) which offers helpful tools both online or in person at local offices. Filing for unemployment benefits should be your primary goal. For a complete list of office branches, go to the website.
Step 2: Meet with the Human Resources Department
With any layoff, be sure to get a copy of performance reviews, if possible. Potential employers will be looking for references, and a formal review will certainly speak to your achievements and how you were valued as an employee. Some smaller companies without HR departments can still be a good resource; ask for a reference before you depart. Due to corporate policies, many companies will only say whether an employee worked at their office and when. This is great to confirm your employment but doesn’t add value to your toolkit. The other key question to ask your former employer is rehiring eligibility. If you have a solid work experience, don’t rule out the potential to return to your company when the dust settles.
Step Three: Express your emotions
One New Hampshire mom recalls going through a layoff with a high-tech company years ago, and experiencing an assortment of emotions from anger to sadness and embarrassment. Once she recovered from the initial shock, she created a schedule so she wouldn’t remain glued to the couch where she spent her first week because she had nowhere to go. In the morning she would work on her resume and reach out to contacts; by afternoon she was ready to greet her kids after the bus, and felt as if she had made some progress. Also helpful, sharing the experiences with friends so they understood her need to save money.
Step 4: Plan for the Future
Investing in a retirement account and educational funds is at the top of most people’s savings list, and so should an emergency fund in the event of a layoff. Financial analysts used to feel three- six months’ worth of salary were enough to keep on hand, but with 5.5 million Americans unemployed for 27 weeks or longer (Bureau of Labor Statistics), this number may need to be extended. Check with a financial planner, or do some research on your own to determine what works for you and your family. Ideally, employers will offer a compensation package, but this is not always the case.
In addition to having a financial cushion to ease the pain of a layoff, establish how you will handle health insurance. Most companies offer access to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA which is an extension of health-care insurance benefits through your employer’s plan. Human Resource administrators can outline your eligibility. For more information on COBRA, go to Department of Labor website: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/health-plans/cobra.htm).
Step 5: Cut back on expenses
Changing your lifestyle can be humbling, but now is the time to review finances and consider areas where you can cut back. Avoid dining out, don’t grocery shop at the most expensive store, wait for end-of-season sales. Need some more ideas? We have them:
Step 6: Dust off your resume and start networking.
Once the shock of a layoff has subsided, it’s time to update your resume and practice interviewing skills. Mr. Davis with Staffing Sense recommends going beyond just providing a synopsis of past skills.
“I constantly preach your resume must stand out from the crowd,” he said. It is not uncommon for employers and staffing agencies to receive many, many resumes, so consider how you can shape your work history to highlight your achievements.
Bridgette Springer is a freelance writer juggling motherhood in Stratham. She is a contributor to regional newspapers, magazines, and marketing projects. Bridgette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When it comes to interviewing, the most important tactic is to be consistent. According to Mr. Davis, if you mention a detail in your resume, but change the explanation during the interview, the employer will be confused, and question your reliability. Same goes for stating why you left a job. If you give a reason over the phone, the explanation should be the same at the interview. Speak with confidence, and know your story well.
Job seekers can also take advantage of social media to broaden their job search options, as many platforms offer successful tools for business networking. Most sites including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are free while also offering a central gathering point for job applicants, recruiters and employers.