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The Day After: Five Steps to Get Back on Your Feet after Losing a Job

The day you lose your job can be one of the most difficult of your life. But there’s no shame in the job-loss game, Carmen said, especially because job cuts and layoffs are part and parcel of any economic downturn. Your power comes from your ability to bounce back, and look forward.

A caller on Thursday’s show asked a question that no doubt many Americans are wondering these days:

“I know I’m going to lose my job, I just don’t know when. I want to prepare so I can stay in the game. What should I do?”

1. Before you do anything else, check your health insurance. Does coverage extend past your last day? Do you have access to COBRA? It’s an expensive option, so you may be better off trying to find coverage on your own or through a union or organization you belong to. “Your health is your wealth,” Carmen said, which is why you should answer the insurance question before all else.

2. Take a good look at your “let-go letter.” Are you receiving severance? Is it enough? Always try and negotiation a better package with Human Resources. You can ask to extend your benefits package as well. Consider hiring an attorney or get a reference for a good employment attorney to help with this.

3. Network, network, network. According to Challenger, networking is the core of the job search. He suggested making a list of the most important and helpful people you know and then going to see each one of them in person. Cultivate your contacts because they will more than likely be the key to getting you your next job.

4. Sell yourself. Let the world know that you’re available and ready to work, and here’s why they should want to hire you. Explain your core competencies, your accomplishments and give a snapshot of your areas of expertise.

5. Do your homework. Devour the web sites related to your specific field or industry and check them often. And don’t neglect your college or other school sites as well – they often have the most comprehensive job listings available.

Having a plan is empowering. When you find the opportunity in what others see as a failure, you’re well on your way to building true affluence, Carmen said.

Have your own job dilemma? John Challenger is a member of our Forums, where he is answering your questions on everything employment-related. If you aren’t already a registered user, you can sign up here. It’s free and it only takes a minute.