Facing a job loss is an unsettling and stressful experience. An employee might be forced into leaving behind a job they love and co-workers with whom they’ve developed meaningful relationships. It raises questions about financial stability, identity, job performance, future plans and career goals.
Then there’s the issue of finding a new position. Most people can’t afford to stay unemployed for long, which means juggling the final weeks or months in a current role while frantically researching and applying for jobs.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is driving a rise in unemployment rates in Australia, increasing the pressure and competition for those hunting for work.
How is coronavirus impacting unemployment rates in Australia?
As the state with the harshest lockdown, the Victorian unemployment rate is forecast to reach 11%. This figure equates to 325,000 job losses between March and September and represents the worst rate the state has seen since the late 90s.
In July, the official, country-wide unemployment rate rose to 7.5%, although economists believe the real figure could be as much as 10%.
Last week, following two consecutive quarters of negative growth, it was announced that Australia has officially fallen into a recession for the first time since 1991.
Compared to many of the harder-hit countries, Australia is much better-placed to recover from the pandemic. Nonetheless, Australians who currently face unemployment must navigate a strange and uncertain road.
Here are four steps for moving forward after a job loss.
1. Look after your mental and physical wellbeing
Losing a job and coping with unemployment will trigger different emotions in different people whether it’s upset, anger and resentment or fear and panic. Finding a new role is important, but so is processing the upheaval and stress of losing an existing one.
It’s worth taking some time, whether it’s a few days or a couple of weeks, to give into these emotions and focus on physical and mental wellbeing.
Confiding in friends and family, taking time to think about future plans, living an active and healthy life, and doing activities that bring joy can help when it comes to switching off and recharging. As a result, kick-starting the job hunt and making impactful decisions will come all the more easily down the line.
2. Focus on the things that can be controlled
A feeling of powerlessness is one of the most common struggles of unemployment. For example, it’s impossible to know when a perfect job will come along or how long it will take to be invited in for an interview, which is why it’s useful to make a list of actions that can be completed in the here and now. Rather than worrying about the things that can’t be controlled, focus on ticking off a few productive tasks each day, which could include:
- Reviewing current finances – start by reviewing current expenses including bills, mortgage, rent and food shopping. Identify how and where savings could be made and create a budget plan for the coming months.
- Signing up for unemployment benefits
- Reviewing and updating social media accounts (including LinkedIn)
- Updating the CV
- Researching career options
- Setting daily or weekly challenges – e.g. applying for three jobs per week.
- Researching the job market
- Practicing for future interviews.
3. Use a methodical approach to job hunting
Job hunting can quickly become a frantic and desperate process, especially as time goes on. To prevent wasting time applying for unsuitable roles, first answer the following:
- What kind of roles am I interested in applying for?
- What salary range am I looking for?
- What level of seniority suits my experience and skillset?
- What are my deal breakers?
Once these questions have been addressed, it’s time to register with recruiters and sign up to job-seeker sites. Remember that every application should include a tailored cover letter and CV to maximise the chances of being invited to interview.
Finding the time to retrain and upskill is one of the few silver linings of unemployment. This might just be the perfect opportunity to change career paths or explore new horizons.
This could include retraining in a different industry, taking a free, online course, or earning a relevant certification. All of these options are great ways to boost resumes and keep busy and motivated throughout the job-hunting process.