Wondering how to navigate a job loss during COVID-19 in India? We’ve got some handy advice.
Losing a job is never easy, whatever the reason may be. But it can be especially devastating when you get laid off when you’re least expecting it. With the COVID-19 outbreak bringing the world to a grinding halt, hundreds and thousands of people have lost their jobs overnight. With a grim future before us, it’s understandable to feel especially bad about a job loss at this point in time.
If you’ve lost your job unexpectedly during this period or are afraid you’re on the verge of it, here is how you can navigate the situation and come out of it successfully.
Take some time to grieve
You’re in the midst of a global crisis. It’s easy to fall into the trap of self-doubt at this time, but it’s important for you to cut yourself some slack and take the time to console yourself. Remind yourself that you did not lose your job because you lack the skills or talent; if it weren’t for a situation completely out of your control, you’d still be working.
It’s completely normal to feel a tad bitter towards your boss or your coworkers who still have their jobs, but try not to dwell on it too much.
It’s in your best interest, both mentally and professionally, to be on good terms with your organisation. Leave on a positive note and stay in touch with your former colleagues as they can help you network and find another job.
In the meantime, focus on your mental health. Catch up on films and TV shows, read the books that have piled up on your shelf, and spend some time doing the things you enjoy. Centre yourself and try not to panic; a new job is right around the corner.
Plan your finances
Now comes the groan-worthy part: handling your money. Now that you don’t have a steady source of income, it’s imperative to dive into your finances and cut your losses. Analyse your income and expenditure and take a call regarding how you can curb unnecessary spending.
- Prioritise the essentials – food, shelter, utilities, and transportation. You have most likely managed to save on restaurants, bars, clubs, the movies, ordering in, shopping, and even your daily commute during the lockdown, which gives you a great head start to focus on just the essentials. Look into each of these categories and figure out where you can manage your finances wisely.
- Dip into your savings when necessary. This is the time to use the savings you’ve built over the years. Your emergency fund will help you here – it can be used for essentials and immediate costs such as rent. If you’re in debt, dip into your SIPs, mutual funds or recurring deposits to keep yourself afloat.
- Cut costs wherever you can. The less your fixed costs, the less you’ll have to dip into your savings. The announcement of ‘work from home’ has been good in many ways. If you’re a single working professional, you can save on rent by working from the comfort of your own home. Other things like transportation are also more or less out of the picture, so make the best of a bad situation.
- Attack your debt. It’s wise not to let debt pile up. Be it your credit card bills, your EMIs or your loans, consider these things as important expenditures. If you can ask for extensions or waivers, now is the time to do it.
When you’ve handled your current financial situation, remember that for the future, having a robust emergency fund and independent health insurance are of supreme importance. These things will make difficult circumstances easier to bear, so do invest in them when you’re financially stable.
Re-evaluate your career path
Several industries have taken a hit during the pandemic, and it’s unclear whether they would be able to recuperate. If many people in your profession are losing their jobs, it would be wise to take a look at whether you want to continue with your chosen career path.
Do some research and read up on where your industry stands, and talk to other people in the field to get some insights. If you think that you’re likely to lose your job again or that you won’t be able to progress in your chosen career path, consider switching.
Career transitions are no easy feat, but there are meticulous steps you can take to successfully do it. You can continue looking for a job in your field, but do not think it far-fetched to switch careers in the future.
Invest in upskilling
While several industries have taken a hit in some way, many will also most likely bounce back when things are stable. If you’re sure that your industry is one of them, start upskilling. There are numerous online courses that you can take to broaden your skillset.
Upskilling will open up more professional avenues for you. The job market is most likely to get more competitive now, so build on your skills and build an impressive CV.
If you’re a content writer, for example, don’t hesitate to take up a screenwriting course online to build on your writing ability – since videos are the new preferred medium, having the ability to write a script will add to your skillset.
You can also use this time to upskill based on your interests and hobbies. For example, if you enjoy photography, consider taking a basic certificate course on photography so that you can monetise on those skills as a freelancer. The freelance gig economy is booming at the moment, so make use of the time you have. Here’s a handy guide to upskilling at home.
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Spruce up your CV and focus on networking
Networking communities will be your best friends during this time. Do not hesitate to show off your skills, talents and achievements on networking platforms.
Update your profiles and add in as many new things as you can. Make yourself more visible – LinkedIn, for example, gives you the option to show that you’re actively looking for a job in a specific industry, so use that to grab attention.
It’s also important to interact with people on these platforms. Tap into your network and ask for openings and opportunities. You could go back to your former organisation and ask for relevant contacts if need be.
Your CV talks about all the work you’ve done, so make it crisp and inviting. If you’re looking to change career paths, make sure that you modify your CV to add in skills and experience relevant to that career path.
Many skills are transferable, so how you showcase them will benefit you during your job search.
Use this time to start a passion project
Remember when you spent your free time painting, singing, writing, dancing, and clicking pictures? Or how cooking was your favourite science experiment and not a tiring chore? Well, this is the time to get back to it!
Focusing on a passion project is like building your hobbies – it’ll keep your mental health from spiralling during tough times, and will remind you to stop and smell the roses.
It’s important to go back to doing the things you enjoy, and they don’t have to be connected to your job in any way. Choose something you loved doing, and start from there. You could even start a different activity altogether!
For the future: re-evaluate your definition of success
If there’s anything this global pandemic has taught us, it’s that our ideas of success are brittle. You can be the most skilful and qualified person in your organisation, but grave circumstances such as these are reminders that you are worth more than your job and designation. You can be ambitious, but your ambitions don’t have to be limited to your career trajectory. The lockdown has given us time to evaluate our health, relationships, and our needs and interests that aren’t directly tied to the jobs we do.
Take this time to redefine what success means to you.
Build your lifestyle in a way that puts your physical and mental health and quality time with your family at par with your professional achievements.
This can prepare you for any other grim situation that may arise in the course of your career.
The pandemic has affected us in more ways than one, and job losses have hurt many. But these steps will help you meticulously prepare for the present and the future.
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