Friday, December 23, 2011

What to get an unemployed friend for Christmas

This post was inspired by a conversation I overheard.  I was riding an elevator, on my way to the metro.  Riding with me were two young women with toddlers.  One of the women was begging the other to babysit her child so she could look for jobs.  This got me thinking, what else might be hindering this woman in her job search?  From there I got to thinking about what would be good Christmas presents for unemployed folks?  Here are a few suggestions.

Childcare Services
Check with your local daycare services and see if they offer drop-in childcare services.  If they have a prepaid option purchase some time for a friend.  Are you a stay-at-home parent?  Offer to babysit the child for a few hours a week or month while your friend looks for a job.

Public Transportation Pass Card
Bus and subway costs can really add up.  Having a pass card loaded up is a help.  Knowing that you have a way to get around town is a big stress reliever.  A pass card is also convenient.  It eliminates the need to have change when riding the bus.  

In the Washington, DC metro area the pass card is called "Smartrip".  I use it all the time when travelling in the area.

Gas Card
Gas costs can also add up so money to purchase gas is also very helpful.

Big Box Store Gift Card
Many unemployed people are receiving some form of public assistance.  But the benefits are limited and don't cover all costs.  For example, someone on Food Stamps can only purchase food with the benefits.  Food stamps can't be used to purchase things like bath soap, toothpaste, toilet tissue,  laundry soap, etc.  A gift card from a store like Target, Walmart, or K-mart can help with these items.

Salon/Hair dresser gift cards
It's important to present a neat, well-groomed appearance when job hunting.  This includes having a neat, professional looking hairstyle.  Maintaining your hair is a challenge when money is tight.  A gift card for salon services will ease the strain.

What do you think would make good Christmas gifts for an unemployed friend?     

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Layoffs are coming: preparing at home've sniffed out the layoffs and made your preparations at work.  Now its time to prepare at home.  Or as some would say "Set your house in order."  Here are some suggestions.

  • Know your rights.  Check with your state employment office to find out what is required when someone is laid off.  Find out how much notice is required.   Are there requirements for a severance package?  Find out what they are.  If your company offers less than what is required tell them you know the law and expect them to comply.  Also find out how unused vacation is to be handled. 
  • Know your rights - special note to clergy.  If you're associated with a denomination that has a congregational polity (i.e. Baptist) review your contract, agreement, policy manual, etc.  If you're associated with a denomination that has a connectional or episcopal polity (i.e. United Methodist) review your book of discipline or book of order regarding assignments/appointments to a church.  Let your personnel committee, session, judicatory, etc. know that you are aware of the procedures and that you expect due process.  If you are in the midst of a complaint or any other administrative action have an advocate or advisor.  DON'T GO THROUGH THAT PROCESS ALONE!
  • Communicate.  Let your friends and family know about the coming layoff.  A layoff will affect your family just as much as it will affect you.  If they know what's coming they'll be more understanding about the needed changes to your finances.  Friends and family can help you with your job search by providing leads to new opportunities.
  • Prepare your personal finances.  Find ways to cut back on spending and increase your savings.  For example, cut out cable and eat out less often.  Do you have an expensive car note?  Perhaps you can sell the car and purchase a less expensive one.
  • Prepare your personal finances - note to clergy. If your church is providing housing which you will be expected to vacate then start saving for a security deposit on an apartment or home.  Negotiate  time to look for another place and to move.  Begin packing your house so when the time comes, you'll be ready.  Another thing to consider, you may not be eligible for unemployment benefits.  Most religious organizations are exempt from paying UI and don't pay.  Find out and be prepared.
  • Set up a non-work email if you don't already have one. Connect it to your Linkedin profile.  (You do have one, right?)
  • Create your own personal business cards.  Pass them out to friends, acquaintances, and other people you meet.  All that is needed for contact information is your name, email address and a non-work phone number where you can be reached.
  • Communicate. Be sure to communicate with your family about the coming layoff.  Talking with them in advance will help soften the blow.  Also, let your friends know.  Then you can start collecting leads for your job search.  This leads to my next point:
  • Begin to look for new employers.  BUT DON'T DO THIS ON YOUR CURRENT JOB!  Don't use company resources or time in your job search.
What other steps would you take to prepare for a layoff?

Preparing for a layoff - home  Susan P. Joyce

Layoff Preparation Guide: Steps to Protect Yourself  K. W. Calhoun