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Navigating Jobless Waters

The Storm of layoffs has hit. How do we survive?

As of the end of May, the United States reached over 1.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, 30% of the confirmed cases world wide. Unfortunately, as a result, in our efforts to somewhat slow the response, businesses have gone bankrupt or shuttered permanently, while positions were altered or disappeared entirely. And this left not only myself, but an additional 1.5 million Michiganders jobless or on unemployment in some form (due to cut hours or lack of incomes, etc.). That’s not to mention a total of over 40 million Americans in the same situation.

While some of these unemployment situations are still temporary, providing small glimpses of hope, others are very permanent. With the State of Michigan at an over 22% unemployment rate, the odds are not exactly in our favor. And statistics and numbers for finding employment, especially employment that pays as much as we were making prior to the pandemic are not promising either.

In all seriousness, now what? We cannot lose hope. But, in the meantime, it is crucial to be as proactive about your future as you can. Here are a few things to get you going.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) states on their site the $600 benefit (as of May) ends July 25th, meaning if you haven’t already used up your 26 weeks allotted for unemployment benefits your “contribution” will continue, but drop. Now is the time to look at the real numbers. How much are you spending on everything? What is the minimum you have to pay for necessities like car insurance, rent, mortgage, food and more? How long will you have unemployment income? Do this now. If you need assistance seeing where everything goes and are good at spreadsheets, make one. Mint also has a great platform and app to put your information in to help with budgeting and revealing what you really spend, sending notifications when you start straying from your budgeted path.

An example: I have to have something by the middle of this month or just get a job to get things going while I find something in my field. With the extra $600 incentive ending this month, it is time to follow-up on leads for jobs, as well as really lean into finding and applying to more jobs. Go back to budgeting, take those numbers to set a realistic timeline for you to work with. By week 10 where should you be? What about 22 if you get that far? It holds you accountable, but also helps break down the daunting task of looking for employment, while perhaps giving you a little breathing room to mourn your job loss and get your head together.

It’s time to brush off the old resume, and if you haven’t touched it recently, it’s worth looking into what those should consist of. Formats are more simple compared to 10, 20 years ago now that employers can look at profiles on LinkedIn or online portfolios for more information. And there are plenty of sites and tools to help you create a new resume with ease.


  1. If you are using LinkedIn, look up the recruiter, hiring manager or HR names for the position and address your cover letters accordingly, as it demonstrates your attention to detail and genuine interest.
  2.  If you know people in your field, or fields you’re interested in, reach out. It could lead you to a friend of a friend’s friend for the job you’re looking for.
  3.  And if you know someone, chances are more likely they’ll take a look at your resume and what you have to offer.
  4. Have other friends look at your resume as well.
  5. If you need a portfolio, wix.com and WordPress offer simple templates to create a space for your work. Use their templates or find instructional videos to better navigate the space and site.

LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster and Glassdoor are the few frequented job resource sites to use for the search. MLive has an employment section as well. MichiganWorks! is a great local go-to for not only job search while providing resources and tools for your quest to employment. If you’re a creative-type, Creative Circle is a great agency to work with to help find you suitable creative employment. Agencies like Robert Half, Aerotek & more can also help open doors.

There’s a mantra I’ve learned to repeat in problems past, which is, “A job is a job.” It’s not a happy mantra or the most favorite of outcomes, but in some cases, if your finances require it, it’s time to bite the bullet. In any case, if it comes down to that it now stands as a good reminder to work harder on where you want to be, while also aiming to budget better and pay things off so you don’t have so much overhead to cover in a next crisis or recession.

If you have some time, look for what you truly want to do & have some fun.

I’m not saying everything will be sunshine and rainbows and you’ll get that dream job next week, but if what you were in before wasn’t your cup of tea, now is a good time to sit down, get to know yourself a little better and figure out what you want to do. And maybe explore some new things you never thought about exploring.

Lalita Chemello is a Detroit-born writer now living in west Michigan. She’s written/edited for New Roads lifestyle magazine and Panorama. Her other passions are photography, motorsports & screenwriting. You can also occasionally find her around town on her vintage two wheels.

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