So You Lost Your Job?


First, you are not alone. Remember that your unemployment is not a reflection on you, but a reflection on the current market.

Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed has risen by 7 million.  On June 5th 2009 the Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate was 9.4%, the highest rate in 25 years. 

Finding a new job will be difficult; 21% of those who are unemployed have been out of work for at least 15 weeks (this beats the previous record of 19.6% set in the recession of 1958).  Times are extremely tough, but benefits are available and finding a new job is possible.

What Do I Do?

As you probably already know, looking for a job in today's market involves much more than searching through the classified ads over breakfast until you find a good offer. 


Success is most likely achieved when a specific, methodical strategy is implemented.  It's an old axiom that ‘looking for a job is a full time job'.  Prepare yourself to work a normal work week's worth of hours until you find your next job.

You need to recognize that the world has changed.  You will most likely get your new job through networking, not through replying to an ad from the newspaper or online.  You may need to research resume writing even if you have a good resume from a few years ago.  Any human resources (HR) professional will tell you that knowing how to write a good resume five years ago, and knowing how to write a good resume today are two very different things.  Be teachable and willing to learn the new strategies for finding a good job.

The sections below will help you get started and will help make your job hunting efficient and effective.

When Do I Start?

Start looking immediately!!  It is tempting to ‘take a break' from work especially if you have unemployment benefits or a severance package that is supplying your immediate needs.  You may deserve a break, but taking one is counterproductive to your long term success; this is especially true in the current job market.

Unemployment Benefits

You should contact the State Unemployment Insurance agency as soon as possible after becoming unemployed. In some States, you can now file a claim by telephone or over the Internet


In general, the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program provides unemployment benefits to people who:

  1. Meet the State requirements for wages earned or time worked during an established period of time referred to as a "base period". (In most States, this is usually the first four out of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the time that your claim is filed.)
  2. Are determined to be unemployed through no fault of your own (determined under State law), and meet other eligibility requirements of State law.

Read all about Unemployment Benefits

Have Unemployment Benefits Been 'Extended'?


The short answer is, yes! On June 12th, 2008, the House approved legislation to aid workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the recent economic downturn. The Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act provides up to 13 weeks of extended unemployment benefits to jobless workers in every state. 

However, in order to qualify the state, in which you live, must have 'high levels' of unemployment.  High unemployment is defined as a seasonally- adjusted six percent total unemployment rate or a four percent insured unemployment rate.

The weekly benefit amount provided by the program would equal the amount received under regular unemployment compensation. (The average unemployment benefit provides $290 a week.).

Read all about Extended Unemployment Benefits

What are the Unemployment Laws in My State?


All states have different criteria before any unemployment benefits are dispersed.  The rules for extended benefits change depending on the state's unemployment rate.  The only way to know the benefits, for which you are qualified in your state, is to contact your state's unemployment office directly.

Your State's Unemployment Office Contact Information

Other Unemployment Benefits


You may qualify for more even more unemployment benefits than discussed above.  If you lost your job or had your job interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster, if you have worked for various branches of the military, NOAA or USPHS, if you lost your job due to increased imports into the United States, or if you were a federal employee you may qualify for even more benefits!

Your best source for all unemployment benefits is your State's Unemployment Office

Employment Networking

Networking cannot be emphasized enough.  Most of the jobs available in the United States will never be advertised.  They will be filled by somebody who knows somebody else, who knows the person doing the hiring and makes the connection between that person and the job-seeker with the skills to complete the job. 


If you want to successfully compete with everyone else who is currently looking for employment, you must intentionally tap into this ‘Hidden Job Market'.  Over 70% of all jobs are found through networking.

Read all about Employment Networking

Updating Your Resume

Resume writing has changed in the modern world.  A resume that worked well for you five years ago will look outmoded in today's job search.  Be sure you understand the different types of resumes, the different formats, and how to market yourself.  Googling local resume writing workshops may help - many of these workshops are offered as free services by government or church groups.

Read essential Resume Writing Tips

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