The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unparalleled disruption in our lives. The past six months have been full of tales of redundancies, mass-layoffs, and businesses closing on a daily basis, and it can be difficult not to worry about your job security.
Losing your job unexpectedly can feel devastating. The anxiety and worry that you may experience can affect every aspect of your life, and so it is important to look after yourself and your mental health during this time. As tempting as it is to throw yourself head-first into your job hunt, it is important to take a moment to breathe, step back, assess your situation, and allow yourself time to process your feelings.
Once you have dealt with the initial shock, there are some key things that you should be doing to get back on your feet. We have listed our top tips below, to help you take steps to move forward and support yourself and your family.
Register for Universal Credit
It is not the most appealing prospect, but it is important to get yourself registered with the UK Government’s Universal Credit scheme. This will at least help you cover some of your living costs whilst you look for a new position and will provide you with tools to aid your job search.
It is important to register as soon as possible, as the current COVID-19 pandemic has allegedly caused longer waiting times for the first payment. If you are unsure if you are eligible, how to apply, or how much you will be entitled to, you can check the Gov.uk guide here. You can start your Universal Credit claim here.
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, get professional advice
In certain situations, it is possible to take legal action against your employer if you have been wrongfully terminated. You can check to see if your termination classes as ‘wrongful’ here.
If you wish to make a claim against your employer, it is important that you do so within three months of losing your job. Before you make a claim, you must inform the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (ACAS), who will try to help you settle the dispute using their Early Conciliation Service. Should these talks fail, however, ACAS will send you a certificate which shows that you have been through this process and can proceed to tribunal.
For a step-by-step guide on how to make a claim, you can head to the Gov.uk guide here.
Get help with your mortgage or rent
The most pressing matter for the majority of those who lose their jobs is how they will pay their bills and keep a roof over their head. Luckily, there is often help with this.
If you have a mortgage, check your policy to see if you have Payment Protection Insurance (PPI). If so, make a claim immediately to avoid any delays in payment. Should your claim be denied, then you may have been mis-sold the PPI and are eligible to make a compensation claim. You should also make sure that you sign up for any benefits that you are entitled to – you can check here.
Finally, you should get in touch with the bank or building society that your mortgage is with and ask them what options are open to you during this period. There could be an opportunity for a mortgage holiday or reduced payments until you are back on your feet.
If you are renting, the first thing you should do is make sure that you sign up for Universal Credit and any other benefits that you are entitled to. These benefits can sometimes include Housing Benefit to help you keep on top of your rent. You should also let your landlord know as soon as possible if you believe that you will fall behind on rent. It may be scary, but it is better to be up-front than to risk eviction.
You should also try talking to a Housing Advisor at your local council – especially if you believe that you are at risk of eviction - as they may be able to provide further help and advice. You have rights as a tenant, and your landlord must follow certain procedures if they wish to evict you.
Collect references from co-workers
If you still have a good working relationship with your co-workers and supervisors, ask for letters of recommendation from them. Being able to provide these to a potential employer with your application may set you apart from your competition, and it also helps your peace of mind knowing that your references are covered.
It is best to ask them as soon as you can, so that their memory of your time with the company is as fresh as it can be! You can help prompt them if you wish for them to include certain achievements or accomplishments, and be sure to only ask those who you had a positive work relationship with.
Create a plan for your job search
Now that you have your bills covered and you have (hopefully!) taken a breather to process the situation, it is time to create a plan for how your job search is going to go. Indeed have a fantastic guide on all of the things you can do to help focus and optimise your search for a new role, which includes the following:
Know your career goals.
Get resume and cover letter help.
Use all job search resources.
Customise your resume.
Apply with confidence.
Schedule informational interviews.
Succeed in your current job.
Identify examples of your skills.
Prepare for interviews.
Expand your skills.
This may seem like a daunting task, but by getting all of your ducks in a row now, you will save yourself a world of stress later on!