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Experts Sound Off On Weathering Abrupt Unemployment

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – American workers are worried — and with good reason, experts say.

“People are getting laid off, they don’t know how they’re going to pay their mortgages, let alone raise the kids, and get a working salary,” said Joe McCarthy, of Fort Worth.

And workers around the nation are mirroring McCarthy’s concerns.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, some 30 percent of workers are worried about losing their job. And that was before Bank of American announced plans to split into two companies—possibly shedding some 40,000 jobs in the process.

“I’ve been in industries that evaporated, overnight,” said Dallas career coach Mike McCormack. But, McCormack adds that workers shouldn’t panic; they should get prepared, instead.

“Have a game plan, understand what your gifts and abilities are, and network like crazy,” McCormack said.

That could mean brushing up on social media avenues like Facebook and LinkedIn, or simply letting friends and family know about the job hunt.

McCormack also recommends reconnecting with former colleagues and industry peers, either in person or on the phone.

“Continue to network,” he said. “Know what others are doing in your industry. Make sure you’re keeping your skills up to date.”

McCormack also recommends using a potential job transition as an opportunity to reassess what it is you truly want to do: Sometimes a lost job can be a blessing in disguise.

“Find out what your strengths are, find out how you can help companies, and go into this looking at it as an opportunity to do something different, maybe even something that’s a better fit for your gifts than what you’ve been doing in the past,” he said.

Experts acknowledge that a job loss is extremely stressful, but say job hunters will weather that storm much better if their finances are in order.

“You need to know what’s going to happen if that was you, whether that’s going to be you, or not,” says Todd Mark, Vice President of Education at the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas.

That means:

• Having at least three to six months of living expenses set aside in an emergency fund—more if possible. The average job search now lasts 10 months.
• Do not take on any additional debt
• Look into other avenues for additional income: is there a hobby or skill that could be cultivated after hours or on weekends that could bring in extra cash?
• List your assets so you will know exactly what resources COULD be tapped, in a worst case scenario

“If you went two months, or four months, or six months without a job, you’d be able to say: I’ve got this much savings, I’ve got this much open credit, this much help from my family. If I had to in a worst case scenario, could I borrow from my 401k? Is my house worth anything? Or am I upside down, there?”

Mark says workers should be proactive with their finances, just as they are with preventative health measures.

The agency offers free online courses on a variety of financial education topics—including one designed to help customers Recession Proof their Finances.

Bottom line, Mark said, everyone should know their “SWAN” factor: That means taking those steps that will help you “Sleep Well At Night.”

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