How to Handle a Difficult Job Search

Hobo businessman with hobo stick and bundle
••• Even though there are no easy answers, there are steps you can take to help survive a difficult time in your life. Gary S Chapman / Getty Images

I have heard from many people who get to the point of desperation - unemployment is running out, money is running out, they can't find many jobs to apply for, and those they do apply for don't call them to schedule an interview. What to do next, is the question of the day.

First of all, try not to panic. Even though there are no easy answers, there are steps you can take to help survive a difficult time in your life.

Ask for Help

First and foremost, ask for help. You are entitled to all the benefits you're eligible for. You paid for most of them while you were working.

Contact your state Unemployment Office to make sure you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to. Also, inquire about training programs, and ask what support is provided if you enroll in a program. If you are going to run out of unemployment compensation, consider a temporary job, so, you'll have, at least, some income.

Determine your eligibility for food stamps. U.S. Government Info/Resources Guide, Robert Longley, has information on how to apply. Check to see what other benefits and services you may be eligible for.

If you belong to a church, call and ask for assistance. Most communities have nonprofit organizations that will be able to help with food, and, possibly, with holiday gifts for your children. Also, if you have children in school, ask the school if there are any programs which can help.

Let your friends and family know your circumstances. When my brother-in-law was out of work for close to a year, the best the family could manage was to bake cookies for holiday gifts. They were able to get a short-term loan from family to help with the mortgage payments and with an attorney to temporarily reduce his child support payments.

Another sister-in-law opted out of holiday giving last year because of her financial circumstances and everyone understood.

Financial Survival

Debby Fowles has some excellent advice in her article ​"Losing Your Job, Without Losing Your Shirt" including:

  • Resist the urge to use your credit cards unless absolutely necessary for critically important expenses.
  • Contact your creditors (credit card companies, etc.), tell them you've lost your job but are actively seeking employment, and request an arrangement that allows you to make token or reduced payments for a limited time.

Don't Give Up

Most importantly, don't give up and try not to take it personally.

Use your job search network. Tell family, friends, business acquaintances - anyone and everyone you know that you are looking for work.

Treat your job search like a full-time job. It is work and, like all jobs, it takes time, effort and energy. If need be, take a break to regroup. Then refocus your energy and use this unexpected windfall of time as an opportunity to reassess your career goals and to get on track to find a new position.