7 Tips for Navigating Through the Unemployment System

Unless you are purposely trying to stay home and collect a check from the government, been doing it for years, and have no intention of ever amounting to anything more in life; you’re probably not well versed in receiving unemployment or other forms of government assistance. If you’re anything like me, you may have even been very prideful about getting help to sustain, fearing that you would be viewed as one of those stereotypes, (you know the negative ones). I swallowed my pride fast when I looked around the room in an unemployment orientation, and was surrounded by teachers, engineers, and a host of other hard working individuals who just like me, had lost their job. So, as someone who has survived unemployment, I’ve gathered some helpful advice for those going through the unemployment process.

  1. As soon as you get laid off, terminated, or even suspended apply for unemployment, and I mean the same day. A couple of my peers actually, did not do it right away and faced tougher times because of it.
  2. Apply online it is way faster. I don’t even want to hear “I don’t have access to the internet” Take your butt down to your free public library and use their computer, your tax dollars helped pay for that library in the first place, utilize it.
  3. Even though you gave your job your loyalty, dedication and some of the best years of your life, they will have the nerve to try and get your claim denied. Oh, yes they will.  So, you’re probably going to have to fight for your unemployment benefits. If it is denied after the initial challenge, you will have to file an appeal. Based on the experiences of my friends, I suggest that you seek legal assistance to proofread and edit your letter and send it as soon as possible certified.
  4. If you have to actually speak to a real person, (even to change your address) you will quickly realize that you CAN NOT get through like EVER! Ok, well you can, but you better call as soon as they open. If their hours are 6 in the morning then you better be on your last number at 5:59 or forget about it.
  5.  The workers there will look for every reason to put off or slow down your process. Do every orientation and meeting you know about pronto. That way the highlight of your day can be the small victory dance you do after hearing your representative suck their teeth through the phone when they realize they have to actually do their job and service your claim.
  6. Seriously, take advantage the programs they offer, even the free career counselor, (although you get what you pay for). The person I spoke with didn’t offer me much help because unlike most of the people who sought help, I was already imploring the new millennial job hunting techniques, so I was wished a “good luck out there.” However, they had plenty of resources including contacts for emergency housing, opportunities for networking, and were the gate keepers to getting the government to pay for your schooling, and job readiness training programs (harder to get if you already have a degree).
  7. Finally, if you are really down on luck, and cash, apply for general assistance. It is no where near enough to sustain but it’s the bus fair you need, or the food to put in your belly. You can get the general assistance while you hold your breath for the unemployment to kick in, or even better a job opportunity arises. Apparently, you can get general assistance in NJ if you make under $1600 a month so it may be worth looking in to.

So there you have it, 7 quick tips on navigating through the unemployment system. Do you have anything to add to that? Even if you’re no longer unemployed, or your unemployment finally became a profitable self-employment venture, I would love to hear your perspective. Also, please pass this information on to someone you think may find it useful. Sharing is caring.

Healthcare for the Uninsured

You have just lost your job, started a new business, or don’t get sick often and so you never enroll in your company medical coverage plan. Your former employer offers you Cobra insurance because during your employment you contributed to the group medical plan and therefore, you’re eligible for it. Some time after your job loss you receive a notice of unemployment benefits and wonder how in the world do people survive off of this kind of income? Afterwards, you cringe at the thought of your non-existent or insufficient emergency savings account, take your chances and decide against Cobra. Guess who catches the flu after never getting sick, ever? There go those chances.

 We’ve all heard the complaints about the rising healthcare costs in America. I’ve also complained about the outrageous co-pays and deductibles. Even with insurance you can get slammed with disastrous medical bills after a surgery or unforeseen medical crisis.  Not trying to take away from the legitimacy behind the need for healthcare reform; I must admit those $10, $25, or even $50 emergency room co-pays are answered prayers to the uninsured.

 One emergency room visit landed me a $400 bill from the hospital and a $400 dollar bill from the physician! Oh and that blessed charity care, well apparently it’s up to the physician if he/she will accept it. After the over an hour wait followed by a 10 minute consultation with prescription writing, $800 is absolutely ridiculous. So I had to do some research and trust me this is only the beginning. In New Jersey if you have kids they recommend that you apply for NJ Family Care. As for me, the childless, you have to dig a little deeper. Eventually, I found some resources (I’ve listed them at the bottom of this post), which led me to a healthcare facility that required no insurance and co-pay was based on my income. Needless to say, I will have to write an entire post about my experience as well as a few others experiences dealing with low-costs to free healthcare facilities. Based on my findings alone, I don’t believe I’m alone in saying more help is needed. I want to challenge those who are interested in helping low-income families in the health care sector to: open more facilities, offer better resources, and truly seek out competent and passionate individuals for employment.




5 Ways to Be Productive While Unemployed

Whether unemployed or underemployed it is not too hard to get discouraged and frustrated from time to time while job hunting. When I went through my own stages of a job search, I learned more and more that traditional job hunting techniques are becoming a thing of the past. It is essential to inherit some new millennial techniques to survive this economy. So I’ve gathered a list of a few ways to stay productive and not go crazy when you’ve become unemployed.

1.)Get reacquainted with yourself-I cannot begin to tell you how many people I’ve come across who define who they are by what they do, (I used to be one of them). I would like to think that we are more than just our occupation. Take some a self-inventory; journal, take some personality assessments, (re)discover what your spiritual gifts and natural talents are, find a life coach or get some counseling if starting over again scares you half to death. By getting to know the real you, a new drive and ambition forms and you become motivated, striving to live and work with purpose. A mentally and spiritually happy you produces a much more productive you.

2.)Go back to school-If you find that you lack some of the skills required by hiring companies maybe it’s time to take some refresher courses at a local community college or online. They even offer free online courses if you look hard enough for them. Perhaps now is the time to finally go for that college degree or advanced degree you kept putting off due to working your full-time job.

3.)Volunteer- There are many ways to volunteer your time and talent including helping out your local community, church, or even virtual volunteer work to help organizations with office tasks or marketing from home. Volunteering is a great way to network and build on skills while working towards the greater good.

4.)Become involved in social media- Like I’ve mentioned, traditional job hunting is becoming a thing of the past. There are so many online communities and resources out there that are created to help people find jobs, mentors, volunteer work, conferences and other network events. I didn’t start getting interviews until I started blogging, using twitter and facebook as methods for job hunting. I’m learning that personal branding with these social media outlets is going to be key for greater career success.

5.)Become your own boss- We’ve all heard stories of great business starting during a bad economy. Well why not start your own business too? If you’ve been working in an industry for many years and built a great reputation for yourself you’re already on your way. If you’re not ready to take such a big risk and make such large investment, contract or freelance work may be the road to travel. As for me, I knew that I had not quite gained enough industry experience to branch off on my own so I decided to try out a work from home business opportunity to teach myself entrepreneurship skills so it won’t be entirely new to me when I pursue other business opportunities.

Feel free to add to this list and tell me what you think.

Camden, NJ Layoffs

Unemployment is hitting home and hurting the livelihood of many families.  In some areas the loss of certain jobs are affecting not only the pockets of the unemployed, but the safety of the residents involved. On Tuesday, January 18th, the City of Camden, NJ laid off approximately 335 workers. Nearly half of its police force lost their jobs, as well as fire fighters and local government administrative workers.  

Is this really a big deal? Well let’s look at a few facts about Camden, NJ: Camden has been known to rank in the top 3 of the most dangerous cities in the US; Most of its residents are living below the national poverty line; As for local government, how about 3 recent mayors have been jailed for corruption.  So in short, yes- losing half of the police force is a very big deal. Now despite these crime stats, everyone from Camden is not a gang member or a drug dealer. We cannot forget the innocent children, senior citizens, and mentally ill. There are also many people living in this city who are earnestly involved in trying to bring Camden back to the thriving business center it once was before its downfall. These people chose to come to this city to build businesses, hospitals, and schools, offering residents help and employment. Taking away these service-related jobs is just another slap in the face to the efforts of community advancement.

Instead of community re-development people are mourning the death of their beloved city. I have even come across a Facebook page with over 4000 “friends” calling for Camden to Rest in Peace. This is truly a sad event to have taken place. I’m praying for the underserved and underprivileged, as well as the men and women who honestly put their lives on the line to protect and serve this community.

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