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6 Actions to Take if You're Laid Off or Lose Your Job

June 01, 2020

Even if you've done everything right and planned for life's "what ifs," a job loss or layoff can still catch you off guard. If you've recently lost your job or you're furloughed for the foreseeable future, here are some actions you may want to take.

  1. File for unemployment as soon as possible. As part of the CARES Act, the federal government is providing an additional $600 a week to anyone receiving unemployment insurance for up to four months and an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through Dec. 31, 2020, for those who remain unemployed after state unemployment benefits run out. It typically takes two to three weeks after you file an unemployment claim to receive your first check.* So the sooner you file, the faster you can receive benefits. Visit and search by state for instructions on how and where to file.
  2. Adjust your budget. First, determine how much you need to cover your immediate needs – food, shelter, utilities, healthcare and other essentials. Reduce expenses where possible, canceling anything no longer necessary, which may be things like lawn care, home cleaning services, subscriptions and streaming services.
  3. Determine if other financial assistance is available. Recent legislation like the CARES Act has been passed to help individuals struggling financially. Help may be available for housing payments, utilities, student loan debt and credit card debt, among others. Learn more on our financial assistance and support page.
  4. Consider your health care coverage. When you lose your job, you can still apply for health coverage through one of two sources: COBRA or the Health Insurance Marketplace. provides information about both insurance options and is a good resource to help you get started.
  5. Create a plan. Talk with your financial advisor about how to get over this hump. You may have questions like: Should I use my emergency savings? Should I tap into my investments? How does this impact my retirement? Your financial advisor can listen to your concerns, walk you through your options and help determine the best way forward.
  6. Expand your job skills. Consider using this time to build your skills for your next position. Use online resources to learn more about topics relevant to your career. There are thousands of hours of free content out there. Thinking about changing careers? Explore jobs that match your skills at Or simply read books related to your career and leadership topics.

Finally, spend some time updating your resume and practicing your interview skills. Videotape yourself talking about your professional experience and answering common interview questions so you'll be comfortable and prepared for your next interview. By taking these steps now, you'll not only learn something, but, more important, you'll set yourself up for success wherever your career takes you.

Important Information:

* Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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