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.

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