The recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic has been slower than a lot of people expected.
For many Americans, that means their incomes are not yet back on track or may have suffered again during the onset of the delta variant.
Data shows that hiring is still slow. Weekly initial jobless claims were up more than expected last week. Continuing unemployment claims were also higher.
While many unfilled positions are available in certain industries, other workers may struggle to find a fit that matches their experience.
Regardless of whether a financial setback has just hit you or you have been unemployed for months, revamping your strategy to find a new job or more income can help increase your chances of success, according to Winnie Sun, a financial advisor and managing director at Sun Group Wealth Partners in Irvine, California.
These are the tips that Sun said she has been giving clients who are in this situation.
1. Search for Covid-19 assistance
Federal, state and local programs have been put in place to help individuals and families cope with the pandemic.
To find out what might be available to you, Google three words — Covid financial assistance — with your location turned on, Sun said.
Just by doing that search, you should be able to find programs that weren’t previously on your radar, including ones aimed at specific demographics or industries.
2. Seek out temporary income
If you typically work in a field where jobs are no longer available, look for other ways where you can potentially find work quickly, Sun said.
That could include making yourself available for freelance work or one-off tasks.
“The key is to bring in income,” Sun said. “You don’t have to love your source of income right now.”
3. Avoid raiding your retirement benefits
Money you have set aside in a 401(k) or individual retirement account, including Roths, should stay there, if possible.
“That should be seen as a last resort,” Sun said. “I wouldn’t touch that if you could.”
Instead, focus on ways you can bring in more income and reduce your expenses.
4. Tighten your budget
Take a look at how much you’re spending and look for ways to slash your expenses, starting with your biggest costs.
If you live in a two-car household and can survive with just one, consider selling a vehicle or even just temporarily cutting it from your insurance policy, Sun said.
Also look for ways of reducing your overall living expenses, either by moving in with a friend or family member or taking on a roommate to help share your costs.
Once you have tackled those big-ticket items, evaluate whether there are other monthly bills — such as phone, internet or TV streaming subscriptions — that you can reduce or even cut altogether.
Additionally, take a look at items around your house that you don’t need. Everything from old video game consoles to fitness equipment may be able to be sold online.
“Everything that you thought wasn’t worth much, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that it is online,” Sun said.
5. Make sure you have health insurance
If you lose your job, your employer will make it possible to extend your health insurance. But that program, known as COBRA (named for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985), is often the most expensive choice.
Instead, reach out to your primary care physician and dentist to find out what other forms of insurance they take.
“Oftentimes, they will know other low-cost options that you haven’t even thought about,” Sun said.
One client of Sun’s was able to get emergency dental work and pay 75% less on the costs after she switched to a plan her dentist recommended, she said.
6. Talk to a financial professional
Even if you’re broke, it is still a good idea to reach out to an accountant or financial advisor for help, Sun said.
They may be able to help identify government programs or tax benefits you may now qualify for, she said. Additionally, they can assess which accounts it would be best to draw from in a pinch.
“So often, people think that you should only be talking to us when you have a lot of income and you’re able to invest, and that’s actually not true,” Sun said.
7. Get active on social media
Social media can help you identify sources for work beyond traditional job ads.
Groups on Facebook or LinkedIn for people in your industry or who share your interests may help you find positions listed outside of job boards or connect with professionals who are hiring.
“You might be able to find work, either temporarily or permanently, really quickly,” Sun said.
Also be sure to update your LinkedIn profile to include an avatar showing that you are looking for work. Ask people who you have previously worked with to write references that will be readily available on your profile.
8. Find a recruiter
Many companies that are looking to hire have enlisted recruiters to help them with their searches.
Reaching out to one of those professionals may help you identify opportunities you may not have considered.
Because recruiters are typically paid by hiring companies, that advice typically won’t cost you, Sun said. Plus, it can help you get an in at a company you’re really interested in working for.
“Sometimes it takes a recruiter to represent you best,” Sun said.