10 Things I Learned From My Layoff
Get dressed for the day, even if you have nowhere to go
Don’t mess with the unemployment office
Securing your unemployment insurance benefits can be one of the most infuriating experiences in a job loss. If you make even the slightest error on your form, you will find yourself in an unending web of poorly managed bureaucracy. I know I did. It was so preposterous that I might have laughed, if I hadn’t spent so much time crying.
So, be EXTRA CAREFUL when you fill out the weekly forms (which they send you in the mail – they are not downloadable online). It’s surprisingly easy to make a mistake, and since the whole process is automated (think: Scantron sheets), there is absolutely no room for nuance. If you color in the wrong bubble, your little clarification note next to it will do nothing but further confuse the evil computers.
To be on the safe side, make a photocopy of each form before you fill it out. If you mess up, they may not send you another one. They may, instead, request that you call the toll free number to nowhere. And if you think there is an office you can visit to work it out face-to-face, you’re wrong. All communication with them is now by phone, fax, email or post. I found this out the hard way. Make photocopies of your forms, and you’ll at least have a shot at resending them.
Now, this may seem like a no-brainer. But I assure you, I have a brain, and it didn’t occur to me to make photocopies the first time around. I never imagined the process could be as archaic as it was. And as a result, I spent two months without benefits, and came dangerously close to a nervous breakdown.
You just can’t spend all day looking for work
It has been said that looking for a job is itself a full time job. It absolutely can be.
When you’re unemployed, it’s easy to feel guilty for doing anything other than job hunting. A matinee or park stroll feels like wasted time – time you could have spent getting an edge on the job boards.
But trust me on this one. For your own sanity, you have to give yourself permission to do other things. Of course, you wouldn’t choose to be unemployed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the extra daylight it affords you. Besides, you can apply for jobs just as easily at 10pm as you can at 10am.