Habush Habush and Rottier

Friday, October 28, 2011

Resources After Termination

Unless you found a job (congratulations!), you're going to run out of money. You may be able to move back in with your parents, but if you put down roots or have a spouse and children then this may not be an option. You'll need to keep looking for a job, but you also need to find a way to get enough money to get to the next job.

First off, there's unemployment insurance. You'll be making $363 a week, based on what Epic pays. It's easy to file. Go to this website, or call 608.232.678 from Madison, or 1.800.822.5246 toll free. Epic pays unemployment insurance and this money comes from that fund, so don't worry about taking from hard-working taxpayers. It's still Epic's money. Once you do the initial signup, you just have to fill out the questionnaire every week. Apply for at least two jobs each week, making sure to keep track of how you applied (phone, in person, website) and who you spoke to in case they decide to audit you. They may require you to attend some classes--these are actually worthwhile and useful. Dee Relyea (twitter @deerelyea) teaches one of the classes, and she knows her stuff. She has an extensive network, and can steer you to good recruiters and other opportunities.

If you're lucky (ha!) enough to get fired at the end of the calendar year, do your taxes early and get your refund. You should know how to do that by now; you're a grown-up after all.

If that hasn't tied you over to your next job, consider cashing in your 401(k). Start by calling Fidelity at 800.343.3548. They'll walk you through the process. It'll involve siging some paperwork, then sending it to Epic for some signatures, and Epic's HR department will have to send it back to Fidelity. It should take about two or three weeks to get the money.

At this point, you really need to have a job. Unemployment is worth $9.08/hr, so if all you can get is minimum wage, you're better off being unemployed. With FICA and other automatic deductions, you probably need something at least $11/hr to equal your take-home from unemployment. Take the first job that comes your way that pays better than unemployment, and then KEEP LOOKING FOR BETTER WORK. One of the Chronicles quotes of the day is "Too many people quit looking for work when they find a job.--anonymous" (no relation). Don't make that mistake.

Last but definitely not least, you'll want to call all your credit card companies, all your utilities, everyone to whom you owe money. They've gotten extremely good at granting forebearances and deferments, and you may be able to argue a lower interest rate or lower monthly payments while you're unemployed. As long as you let them know beforehand, they're usually pretty accomodating. If things do spiral out of control, Greenpath Debt Solutions is extremely helpful and easy to work with. The budgeting software, YNAB (referral link, saves you money on the subscription), can be really helpful with making your newly limited funds go exactly where you need them to go.

On applying for jobs: You're probably not going to find a company that doesn't honor the non-compete. All the recruiters honor it, so if you want to go directly from Epic@Epic to Epic@Client, you're going to have to apply directly to the healthcare organization. Implementers will probably have a leg-up here, as most clients want dedicated builders. Fewer are hiring for ongoing support. TS, market yourselves appropriately.

I do know and have confirmed that at least a couple clients don't honor the non-compete. Leave a comment with your email address (comments are moderated and private; no one but me will see them) and I'll let you know who they are.

Update 2/3/14:
You can get free money from the internet, but it'll be less than minimum wage, and it'll typically come in the form of gift cards. These are the sites that I use, and I've had great success with getting Amazon (but they have other vendors, like Starbucks and Paypal) gift cards from them, to the tune of several hundred dollars over the course of a while. It's not going to help you pay your rent, but it might keep you in lattes for bit. Disclosure: some of these sites offer me a referral bonus. That bonus encourages me to keep posting useful advice. Depending on reader interest, I'll post more advice on milking these systems with the minimum amount of time-investment.

  • Swagbucks: 450 points gets $5 amazon. You can get 50 points a day by not doing much at all, and the opportunity exists to get a lot more than that every day. At minimum, you're looking at a gift card almost every week. You can get points for shopping, too.
  • MyPoints: Similar to Swagbucks. They send emails to you, you click on them, you get points. You also get points for shopping online, and I think they're partnered with more vendors than swagbucks. I've been using this for years and have gotten a couple hundred bucks from them alone.
  • Bing: Get points for searching. It takes me about 3 weeks to get $5 amazon, with an investment of about 3 minutes a day.
  • Amazon Mechanical Turk: No referral bonus for this one. It's amazon money in exchange for helping research studies and other cognitive stuff. There's also transcription and translation to be done. I haven't used this much, because the payouts are small for the stuff I qualify for. I don't speak the languages they're interested in with any fluency, and that kind of stuff pays more. 
  • E-Miles: I get no referral bonus here, either. Watch some ads occasionally, answer three questions, get some points. It used to be free airline miles, but they've opened it up for gift cards now. You can make charitable donations to numerous causes and get points. I just watch the ads, and get a gift card every couple of months.
There are definitely ways to milk these systems, and depending on interest, I'll share them here. Otherwise, nothing more will ever be said on the subject.