What to do when you’ve lost your job – On the Money with Jarryd Neves

Jarryd Neves
On the Money. Budding stock market investor Jarryd Neves, of BizNews, sends out an invitation to everyone who wants to ask questions about share investing – but is too embarrassed to ask. Write to [email protected] And tune in for his regular Monday column: On the Money

Job creation is a serious issue in South Africa. Currently, the unemployment rate amongst South African youth sits at a staggering 74.7%. What’s more, according to John Edres of the Institute of Race Relations, nearly half the population (49.2%) fall below the poverty line – which is set at a measly R1,183.

The Covid-19 pandemic only made this worse, with the resultant lockdowns (and alcohol ban) hammering numerous sectors. Many businesses closed their doors for good, taking hundreds of thousands of jobs with it. Of course, one cannot just blame Covid-19 – if we’re honest, SA’s economy was on life support even before the virus was a reality. Our education system is a mess, with Edres sharing the alarming statistic that “out of a given school cohort that starts in Grade 1, under 5% make it to matric and achieve a mark of 50% or higher in maths.”

But let’s put that aside for one moment. If you have a job in SA at the moment – any job –  it’s an absolute blessing. The ability to earn money and provide for yourself or a family should be the norm, but in South Africa, it’s a luxury. Still, people are losing their jobs everyday as the economy crumbles under ever-increasing pressure. What’s more, as companies are squeezed, many businesses place unrealistic conditions and requirements on employees – most of whom are still working from home.

We find ourselves in a peculiar situation – people are losing their jobs, but also leaving them as mental health and self-care take priority in people’s lives. Let’s look at what to do if you find yourself without employment in this tumultuous time.

Firstly, you need to deal with the severe emotional weight that will accompany the loss of a job. It’s a shock to your system and needs to be mourned. Take a few days – or a couple of weeks, if need be – to collect your thoughts and pull yourself together. Anger, depression and anxiety will undoubtedly creep up as the realisation sets in. It needs to be dealt with in any way you see fit – exercise, therapy or just talking to a friend may help.

It’s also important to not let your job – or job status – define you. Too often, we base so much of our identity around a skill or a job. Once you’re ready to look for employment once again, it’s important to tap into your network. Don’t be ashamed to tell people that you’re unemployed, as you never know what potential opportunities may be around. Obviously, scouring LinkedIn (and updating it) is essential, as is rejigging your CV and sending it out.

While it may be hard to settle for less (in terms of remuneration or status), it’s very likely that you will be forced to step out of your comfort zone. While searching for a permanent job, try to source alternative income streams like doing deliveries, driving for a ride-share app (such as Uber) or even tutoring. It may not bring in the money you’re accustomed to, but it will give you something to get up for in the morning and keep you feeling positive.

Probably the most important part of this is your finances. Whether you’re out of a job for a couple of weeks or months even, your lifestyle and budget will have to face a considerable make over. The importance of emergency savings come into play here, with that hopefully being able to sustain your living expenses – rent, car payment, groceries, utilities – until you can find a job again. But that doesn’t mean that you need to spend like you once used to. Save where you can, cutting out frivolous expenses – like take-out, for example. It will make things much easier for you, should you find yourself without work after an extended period of time.

Of course, let’s not forget that there are helping hands – UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund) provides the unemployed with short-term assistance when needed. According to SARS, it can also help those who are unable to work for other reasons, including maternity and extended illness. (Read more about UIF here.)

While tough, it’s important to stay motivated and actively work towards finding gainful employment.

Have a question about share investing? Write to me at [email protected].

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