Clark Howard: Losing Your Job WSB-TV report (Part 1)

Clark On TV

What to do if you’re laid off

Clark Howard, WSB-TV consumer adviser

Read Part II: Preparing for a job loss

Are you living paycheck to paycheck?

If you were laid off tomorrow, how long would you be able to make ends meet? Consumer adviser Clark Howard says, if you don’t know the answer, you could be in trouble.

“I was laid off two weeks ago,” said Marla Mack.

She is not alone. At a job fair, she’s among thousands of unemployed workers waiting for the chance to interview with just 12 companies.

“The competition is getting more difficult because every time I turn on the news, there’s more people laid off,” she said.

And the news doesn’t look to be getting better anytime soon. So, what do you do if you’re laid off?

First, you need to apply for unemployment. Next, you need to cut and prioritize your expenses, and i mean cut deep! Cable TV — gone! Cell phone — gone! Dinners out — done! I want you to pay the mortgage first, then your car payment. That way you can still live and look for work.

Next, pay the utilities. After that, pay what you can afford.

Once you get organized financially, it’s time to job hunt. A great place to start is the Department of Labor career centers.

“The first thing we want to do is make sure they are prepared to look for work,” said Sabrina Clemmons of the Department of Labor.

The career centers, formally known as the Unemployment Office, will help you prepare resumes, give you free use of fax machines and copiers, and even have computer stations where you can surf the Internet for jobs.

Erika Rodgers has used it all. “Hopefully, somebody will call me back for a job interview,” she said.

“When they (the unemployed) come in, we can get them situated, and get them set up to receive their benefits and start their job search the same day,” said Clemmons.

After an hour in line, Marla Mack’s made progress in her job search. It’s her turn to interview.

But she finds out that she’s lacking the training needed for the job. Undaunted, Marla moves on — remembering her goal.

“I’m here today to hopefully find some good leads and to network,” she said.

Many studies I’ve read say keeping a positive attitude is the best thing you can do when laid off. Also, if the job search isn’t bearing fruit, then try interning somewhere for a while, it will keep you networking, and get you out of the house.

But please! If you are laid off, don’t try to keep living the lifestyle you are used to. I’ve heard of people using their 401K money to supplement their unemployment insurance. Bad idea. Instead, cut your spending to the bone.