Whether you've been laid off, fired, or quit, if you don't have a job ready and waiting for you, you're going to have a gap in employment on your resume. And unfortunately, the bigger that gap gets, the harder it's going to be to finally land a job.
Currently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the U.S. unemployment rate sits at 6.2 percent as of July 2014.
While statistically that percentage has seen much worse, it's definitely not at an all-time low, either.
So, what are you supposed to do if you find yourself unemployed at a moment's notice?
What to do as soon as you're laid off
While it may be enticing to want to take some time off to travel, relax, or focus on a hobby, the reality is that it can be very tough to find a job nowadays. Competition is high, people are willing to work for less pay, and the longer you wait, the harder your job hunt will get.
As soon as you do find yourself unemployed, it's time to start networking.
Update your social media pages, let your inner circle know you're looking for work, and get in touch with as many companies in your field as you can regarding hiring. It only takes one valuable connection to land a job.
While in the process of job hunting, make a list of all your best qualities, talents, awards, recognitionsm and favorite hobbies.
Look for patterns and try to find careers you may be good at but never realized before.
If you're good at technology, love researching online in your free time, understand the ins and outs of social media, and are the person your friends go to for tech questions, maybe a job as a social media coordinator is for you. Be willing to expand your skill set and look for jobs outside of what you're used to.
A Forbes piece, What to Do as Soon as You Get Laid Off, recommends settling on a story to tell future employers about your gap in unemployment.
Keep it short and portray it in a positive light. Never bad-mouth your previous employer and try not to go into too many details about what led to your layoff.
Don’t overlook health insurance
Another major concern when losing a job is deciding what to do about health insurance.
The article “Avoiding Lapses in Health Insurance Coverage” states that it's critical to avoid a prolonged lapse in medical coverage.
Luckily, there are options available to maintain your coverage such as COBRA or getting your own private plan. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act will allow your current medical conditions to still be covered under a new plan if unemployment were to occur.
Though the unemployment gap in your resume can be costly, it's not end-all, be-all. Keep a positive attitude, network as much as possible, and discover your talents and interests.
You may end up starting your own business or landing a job you love with a company you respect and admire.
Think of it as a new opportunity rather than a failure.
Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Glendale, AZ with her husband and two daughters. She's passionate about writing, traveling, cooking and spending time with her family. Her writing topics include food and nutrition, travel, personal finance and small business. Sites she writes for include ripoffreport.com and those discussing college degrees.