How to Plan for a Job Change – Unexpected or Otherwise
As the economy continues to struggle, many employers are faced with the toughest of decisions - how to let go of a trusted group of employees. Many employees are faced with the difficult decision to depart for a better financial opportunity. Whatever the reason behind a job change, the fact remains that without proper preparation, the results could be disastrous - financially speaking. Emotionally, a change in jobs can be a tremendous source of strain and adding money to the matter only makes it that much worse.
Here are some things to consider as you contemplate changing jobs or if you are faced with the prospects of losing your job.
Get Started on a Plan
If you are going to leave your job, you need to have a plan. Or - even if you have no confirmation about an imminent job loss, you may have some gut instinct telling you what may lay ahead and you need to get your ducks in a row in preparation. Make sure your resume is as up-to-date and relevant as possible. Make sure your phone numbers, address, job experience, and skill sets are on track with your current situation. Keep an eye out for prospective new positions that are currently open so you will have an idea of what's out there once you start looking actively. Consider how much longer you can stay at your present job before absolutely having to move on. Be prepared to leave your position in two weeks time, once you begin receiving other job offers. Do not burn any bridges along the way, as who you leave in the past may very well show up again in the future as a reference.
Take Advantage of Your Current Benefits
If you know you will be leaving for a new position or are about to be laid off, take time to set up doctor visits, eye exams, and dental appointments. Many times in a new job, you have to wait through a probationary period to start receiving benefits, if you get benefits at all.
Check In With HR
You should make a point to check in with your human resource manager about the status of your pension and 401k. You do not need to let them know you plan to leave or are looking for another job, but it is imported that you know what you have going on. For instance, you want to know if you are vested in the company and what the benefit will be. If you are not fully vested, find out how much more time you need to put in to be fully vested. If you are just short of the time needed, it would be in your best interest to tough it out or you risk thousands of dollars in your own retirement benefits.
Take Your Retirement with You
It is often recommended that if you have a 401k, you should roll it over into an IRA that will allow you more flexibility than an employers' plan. If you do not understand the workings of retirement funds, make sure you consult with someone who does or do your own homework. There may be limits or restrictions on your money and it can cost you dearly in taxes and penalty fees if you do not go through the process correctly or in the right time frame.
Build Up Your Nest Egg
While an unexpected job loss can be harsh on your financial situation, you should definitely have some type of financial cushion should you be the one to make the change. You should not impulsively quit your position without having a backup fund to keep you going while you look for a better position. It may feel terrible having to go to work everyday when all you want to do is stay away, but you will feel even worse if you are out of a job, out of income, and have no extra money to fall back on until you get on your feet again.