By Indeed Editorial Team
It can be challenging for individuals in their 50s to find a new job. However, moving forward after losing a job is possible at any age. Recovering from this loss involves refocusing and redirecting your career plan and finding what makes you happiest. In this article, we discuss 10 tips for what to do when you lose your job at 50.
Why it’s important to have a plan if you lose your job at 50
Losing a job at 50 may be especially challenging if that job connects to a longstanding history with a company consistently involving upward mobility.
When facing a lost job at 50, several things become an immediate priority, including bills, expenses, health insurance, income, retirement savings and short-term savings. Then, you might also face caring for children or other family members at home. If you’re prepared with a plan, however, then you can feel more confident about your ability to re-enter the job market as soon as possible and start a new job you enjoy.
10 tips for what to do when you lose your job at 50
Here are tips you can follow if you’re trying to cope with losing your job after 50:
- Evaluate how you’re doing emotionally
Losing a job in your 50s could take an emotional toll. This is why it’s important to look for support from friends, family members or others your age who are going through the same thing. For example, you could join an unemployment support group. It’s also a good idea to speak to your loved ones often about what you’re going through. Focusing on self-care is also essential, including making sure you’re not missing meals, that you’re sleeping enough and that you’re socializing. Doing these things can make it much easier to start your job search when you’re ready.
- File for unemployment
In most states, those who have lost a job are eligible for unemployment benefits for a certain amount of time. These benefits temporarily replace a portion of your wages. Begin the process by contacting your state’s unemployment office as soon as possible after job loss occurs. Your state might also allow you to file online or over the phone. The process involves filling out a claim to include the names and addresses of your former employers. If the processing takes longer than two weeks, it’s a good idea to contact the unemployment office.
- Create a plan
Create a plan as soon as possible outlining how you may need to adjust your spending and whom you might know with potential job leads. Look at the act of finding a job as your “current” job. Start by targeting discretionary areas in your budget where you can make cuts. If you don’t yet have a budget, now is a good time to create one. It’s helpful to keep yourself as busy as possible by taking classes to review and improve your skills, volunteering in your community and more.
- Keep track of your savings
Losing a job at 50 means losing income and the ability to add to your savings. You might feel tempted to pull funds from investments, home equity or savings accounts. However, it’s better to avoid having to replenishing these funds if possible.
Consider freeing up cash flow by stopping automatic transfers from your checking to your savings account. You may also want to wait to pull from your assets before determining if the situation is an emergency or not. If you have a 401(k), keep in mind that you have to pay income tax on those funds, and if you pull from this account, that could reduce your unemployment benefits. Instead of paying debts from assets, speak to your creditors to see if there’s coverage for job loss and talk to utility companies about hardship plans.
- Inquire about insurance
Job loss almost always involves losing insurance. These insurance coverages could include disability, health and life. However, you might be able to continue receiving your health benefits through COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act).
Start by contacting your HR representative or an insurance agent to determine what you qualify for and if COBRA insurance is a possibility. You might have to apply for this coverage within a certain timeframe after losing your job, so be aware of that. You can also look at your former group coverage to determine if your disability and life insurance have conversion or continuation privileges.
- Identify your skills and strengths
Experiencing job loss is an excellent opportunity to hone your talents and determine which skills are your best. Think about your passions and which companies, fields, industries and verticals could benefit from them the most. Consider three or four of your best strengths and skills. Identify soft skills, including curiosity, optimism, reliability and more. After that, define any technical or occupational skills you have, like using spreadsheet software or generating a profit and loss statement. Outline your universal skills, including effective communication and problem-solving.
- Refresh your resume
Those holding positions for lengthy timeframes may not have an updated resume. If you’re facing this situation, several tools are available for creating a resume that stands out. Review skills on your resume that are no longer relevant and update them. Keep your educational background, but it’s likely not necessary to include your GPA anymore. Rewrite any bullet points that detail projects and other accomplishments and remove decades-old or entry-level positions.
- Commit to searching for a job
Finding a new job involves sending out a high volume of resumes and filling out paperwork. Your commitment to your job search also involves reflecting on the job you just lost and determining if you want to continue with that same job at a different company.
Create a list of three or four milestones for each of your previous roles and search for jobs that relate to them. Look at industries in which you have experience and market yourself to them. Here’s where you can re-imagine your job prospects and career path to find other industries where your skills are valuable. Prepare a cover letter that introduces who you are, what skills you have and how your experience relates to the prospective job.
- Share your story and network everywhere
It may help to share your experience with anyone willing to listen. It could even result in a new job opportunity from one of your peers. Networking doesn’t only have to occur on social media platforms—you can network at social events, in the line at the grocery store, while in waiting rooms and more.
Don’t be afraid to request from your network or accept it when someone makes an offer. Share your story fearlessly with your peers, previous work colleagues, family and more. Look for opportunities to discuss your previous roles and why you’re valuable as often as possible.
- Research leads within your network
Take some time to think about how many people you know and trust. This list may end up being longer than you thought. Look at your social media networks to determine where people work, if they hold a leadership role and how you can market your skills to them.
Create a list of people within your networks that hold positions or are hiring for positions related to your job search. Contact these individuals about your job search, be specific about what you’re looking for and ask them if they have any information or leads about the role. Be authentic and considerate, but instead of outright asking for a job, it may be more beneficial to ask for advice about getting a new position. Evaluate your network’s opportunities and strengths, create new connections and branch out to move forward.