JOB LOSS has been one of the most damaging blows of COVID-19. Entire industries — tourism, entertainment, restaurants and bars, BPOs — and various small businesses have had to lay off staff or completely shut their businesses. If you have lost your job, you are among millions across the globe grappling with the effects of COVID-19 in their day-to-day lives. Chavanie Clarke is an experienced data and business analyst and serves as chief insights officer at Bluedot Insights. Here, she shares seven steps to help you reorganise and ultimately recover.
REVISE YOUR BUDGET
You will be entering a period of uncertainty and it will be important to prepare. Revise your expenses and start to prioritise those around your essentials. In a recent study conducted by Bluedot Insights among 1,600 Jamaicans, a quarter of respondents were cutting back or entirely eliminating entertainment expenses. Personal care products and services and telephone expenses were also areas respondents were cutting cost. Rent/mortgage and utilities were only considered as a last resort. Remember to budget for medical emergencies, and consider your dependents, such as elderly relatives.
ASSESS YOUR SAVINGS
This is the rainy day that you have always heard about. Break the piggy bank, lift up the mattress and check on those long-lost bank accounts. Make a list of all your cash holdings, including savings account, investment accounts and partner plans. Call your life insurance broker and see how much cash value is on your insurance policy. Tally your total holdings and divide that figure by your new monthly budget to arrive at your run rate— this is the number of months you can survive on your cumulative cash.
TALK TO YOUR FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS
This is a very important step that can shape your financial recovery after COVID-19. If you have loans and other commitments such as life insurance, contact your financial institutions as early as possible. Notify them of your situation and ask that it be put on file. Discuss what your options are around loan moratorium and ask for leniency on your life insurance payments. There are local institutions allowing up to three months’ moratorium on loans, mortgage and credit card payments. However, you have to make your situation known.
STAY CONNECTED WITH YOUR WORKPLACE
You may still be feeling a bit bitter after being laid off from your job, but most likely it isn’t personal. Business owners have a responsibility to ensure the viability of their businesses and that means making tough decisions. If your lay-off is temporary, connect with your team and check in where possible. If you have some free time, offer to help, this kindness will likely be in your favour once COVID-19 has passed.
ACTIVATE YOUR NETWORK
It may be tempting to isolate yourself from others and worry your days away, but it is more beneficial to reach out to the people in your network and let them know that you are on the market for work. Use WhatsApp and other social channels to ask people in your circle to keep an eye out for you. If opportunities come up, you are more likely to be top of mind. Staying connected with family and friends is equally important at this time, they can be a source of well-needed support.
START LOOKING FOR GIGS
While the outlook may seem particularly dire, there are still companies that are hiring. In fact, many companies are using the time to retool and prepare for the recovery. Until you find something concrete, there are opportunities for small jobs to carry you through. Be open to at-home gigs, such as BluedotComuna – an easy way to earn from home by participating in paid surveys. There are also online freelancing sites such as fiverr.com and upwork.com, where you may sell your specialised skills all over the world.
This is a great time for self-reflection and thought, but it presents an opportunity to work on your professional skill sets. Learn to code, master Excel, or even how to cook Thai food. Several top online institutions, including Harvard, are offering free online courses, which not only keeps your mind active, but will score points for initiative with a hiring manager. Amazon Kindle and Audible are offering free online books covering a range of genres and topics. Seek books that pique your interest and if it supports personal development, that’s a bonus!
The effects of COVID-19 are likely to continue well into 2020. Along with maintaining a positive attitude, focus on things that are in your control. These small steps can make a big impact over time. Things may not go according to expectations, but it is important to remain focused so that you will not only survive this COVID-19 period, but discover your true potential.