Losing your job can be a devastating experience.
Sometimes a job loss can be expected, other times it comes abruptly. Either way, it leaves you with wounds to lick and a future to ponder.
With the current crisis wrought by the coronavirus, the threat of mass job losses has never been more imminent.
The International Labour Organisation predicts that about 1.6 billion jobs will be lost globally as a result of the ongoing economic meltdown.
In Kenya, more than 230,000 jobs have already been lost, and the government warns that should the current crisis persist, some 500,000 people may find themselves jobless in the next six months.
According to career experts BrighterMonday, the future of employment looks bleak. Nothing can prepare you enough to face sudden unemployment comfortably.
However, there are measures you can take to minimise the agonising effects of sudden job loss.
Learn a new skill
Besides your job, what else can you do to earn an income? Acquiring new skills can expand your abilities and will make your resume a lot more attractive.
If you are a journalist, you could enhance your skills in various photography techniques, then take up the readily available photography-related gigs.
You can even take cooking classes online for free, and then look for a job at a restaurant as a barista or a chef. The goal is to stay productive and earn enough to keep you going even as you look for a permanent job.
Findings of a research published in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour in 2016 showed that unemployed individuals and those who have recently lost their jobs are twice as likely to suffer psychological problems.
Set up an emergency fund
Do you save? For how long can you live on your savings if you were to lose your job?
For many, the anxiety over job loss is mainly brought about by the thought of suddenly being unable to meet their financial obligations.
If you could still pay your bills effortlessly even after losing your job, you wouldn’t dread the layoffs that much.
Build strong networks
How often do you engage your networks? Some professionals put away business cards as soon as they receive them, only to retrieve them in times of emergency or when in need of a favour.
Keep your networks alive and engaged at all times. Send your associates an e-mail just to say hi or acknowledge their promotion or new jobs.
This makes it easier for you to reach out to them when you’re in need. Calling an executive you met two years ago at an event to make a job enquiry is not only awkward but impolite too.
Adjust your budget
Picture slashing your expenditure from Sh100,000 to about Sh20,000. Painful, isn’t it? You need to regularly modify your expenditure and strike out needless expenses.
Spending only on basic necessities will help you free up more money for savings. And should you lose your job, it will be easier to adapt to your new circumstances since your expenditure will have already gone down.
Pay your debts
If you’ve lost your job, how will you service your Sacco, mobile or Shylock loans? Even if you are jobless, your creditors will still expect you to pay them, so do so early enough to avoid long-standing arrears. Where possible, aim to stay debt-free.
Keep your eyes on available jobs
A significant number of professionals stop looking for a job as soon as they find one.
This way, they miss out on better opportunities that could propel them further in their careers. As long as you’re alive, you should never stop looking for a job.
Keep tabs on online, newspaper and magazine job postings. Assess your suitability for them and acquire the necessary skills for posterity.
Marketing executive Amy Chan says: "The most important thing in finding a job, keeping a job and preparing for job loss and repeating the process all over again is to know yourself."
As a professional, assess your realities and options. Keep tabs on labour trends in your occupation and prepare adequately.
Chan says that the moment you sign your employment contract, you also automatically sign up for a possible layoff. For this, whenever she takes a new job, Chan endeavours to negotiate upfront the layoff terms in her contract.
A job loss, devastating as it is, is also an opportunity for one to take stock of his or her work and social life. It is a moment to ask yourself, what matters most? Is it money, career growth, fulfilment or family?
Even as you work, always remember that you could lose your job, so plan and prepare to avoid anxiety.