5 Ways to Recover From a Job Loss — And Land an Even Better One

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Ways to recover from job loss

The sinking feeling when you realize that meeting with your boss means you’re getting laid off. The weeks spent sending dozens of applications to receive little or no response. Few things are as demoralizing and financially stressful as losing a job and facing unemployment.

Whether you’re a seasoned worker who got blindsided by layoffs or a recent college graduate struggling to find a job, the goal to secure employment is the same. How you handle your job search, money management, and stress reduction during this time can make all the difference. These five tips can help you minimize anxiety and make the next big move in your career.

1. Make your financial survival plan for unemployment

After losing a job or quitting, your finances probably are going to take a hit. Taking some proactive steps could help you absorb this blow better.

  • Claim unemployment insurance benefits. Complete all the paperwork to file for unemployment benefits in your state. Once your application is approved, make sure you keep filing weekly claims and satisfy the requirements to maintain your benefits.

  • Cut back to the basics. Take a hard look at your budget and reduce any and all expenses that aren’t necessary to the cost of living or searching for a job. You don’t know how long you’ll be unemployed, so work out a budget that can buy you time for at least three months or more.

  • Tap your emergency fund. Hopefully, you had managed to sock away an emergency fund that can keep you afloat until you get on your feet. If so, now is the time to use it.

  • Consider putting student debt on hold during unemployment. Federal student loans can be deferred or put into forbearance if you lose your job. You also can enroll in an income-driven repayment plan to manage your debt during this time. Many private student lenders also have hardship protections, such as deferment or forbearance, to help borrowers in times of need.

  • Work on other streams of income. Just because you’re out of work doesn’t mean you can’t continue to earn extra money. “I highly recommend finding ways to get income during a job search,” said Gretchen Hellman, a career coach and founder of Outside the Box consultancy. “Freelance work can also be valuable because it puts negative experiences farther behind and can build self-esteem.”

2. Reduce stress and build your confidence

Unemployment can also hit you hard emotionally.

“The path to unemployment almost always contains some traumas that can negatively affect self-esteem [and] create anxiety and feelings of hopelessness,” Hellman said. “If we are let go or treated so badly we quit, our primal brain interprets it as being expelled from the tribe. That can cause shame spirals, ruminating over events, and feelings of worthlessness.”

Watch out for these emotional and mental sinkholes, and proactively work to manage distress and anxiety. Stick to a routine and keep your days structured with your job search filling the hours you previously spent working. Block out time for fun things that build your confidence, too, such as exercising, spending time outdoors, or working on a hobby.

3. Tap into your social support system

Another important stress management strategy is staying connected with your social circle. “It’s important to establish a support system during job loss — from the community, with a career coach, a therapist, friends, and family,” Hellman said. This is key to fighting off social isolation, which can worsen stress.

Use your newfound free time to get back in touch with old colleagues, college buddies, and close friends. Invest time into strengthening core relationships or re-establishing neglected connections. This networking could even give your job search a vital boost.

“Unemployed candidates should leverage their networks to help them out,” Hellman said. “It’s always important to get introduced into open positions because it increases the trust the employer has in a candidate’s worthiness.”

4. Find lessons and prepare for interview questions

Reflecting on the situation that led to your unemployment can be an important part of processing and learning from your job loss. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” and be willing to make changes as you mull over the lessons.

This self-reflection also will prepare you to answer a common job interview question: why you left your last position or aren’t in the job. “It’s important to really nail the story of your last position without anger, judgment, and have an explanation that shows off a high level of emotional intelligence,” Hellman said.

Develop a response that’s honest but frames you in a positive way. Explain your side of the situation in neutral or positive language, and avoid getting defensive or too detailed. Highlight what you’ve learned and how you can ensure, if possible, that similar problems won’t arise with a future employer. Write your response down or test it with a friend, and practice delivering it confidently and clearly.

5. Make your job search wide and specific

“Job seekers tend to look for why they aren’t qualified rather than focusing on getting the qualification,” Hellman said. If you go down this route, you might unnecessarily narrow your search and miss job opportunities that could be a great fit.

Rather than assuming you’re not a match, stay flexible and open-minded when looking for positions, Hellman said. By widening your search, you can send out more applications, be considered for more jobs, and increase your odds of getting an offer.

You also should look for ways to make the case for your qualifications and draw specific connections between your capabilities and the job description.

“Before you write the resume, know what type of job you are going after,” Hellman said. Make it clear how your experience relates to the requirements of the position you’re applying for. Hellman also suggests customizing cover letters and honing job interview skills to make yourself a standout candidate.

Lastly, counter rejections and nonresponses to applications with self-care and resilience. “Be kind to yourself,” Hellman said. “If you do the work and plant enough seeds, you’ll get the ‘yes’ you’re after.”

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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 5.950% APR to 14.740% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.825% APR to 14.365% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of May 18, 2018, and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.825% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.90% plus 4.175% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates range from 4.99% – 16.24% (4.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.