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 to be updated soon), 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. 

Update 3/6/18
Since I started reading financial blogs recently, and my motivation for this site was that I needed financial advice after getting canned, I've noticed that most of them encourage people to milk rewards credit cards. My credit is not great (but it's improving!), and I qualified for the Chase Freedom card. 1% cash back on everything, with 5% cash back on certain types of purchases which change every quarter. Currently, there's also a $150 bonus if you spend >$500 in the first 3 months of having the card. Use this referral link above to help me help you.
This is best done before you get fired, to create that nest egg, but better late than never. Take control of your savings with the Qapital app. Link your bank account, and create rules to automatically save for whatever goal you want. Rules can be "round up every purchase to the nearest dollar, and deposit the excess into your goal", "save X% of every deposit", or a slew of others. It's a great app. Use the referral link above, and we'll both $5.


  1. This is a really useful and honest post; probably the most useful resource anyone has pointed me to. Thanks for posting.

  2. thanks for the blog.

    i've been with epic for just over two years and am considering other opportunities. i've got some ideas about getting around the non-compete; i'd like to hear yours as well.

    thanks again!

    1. Leave a comment with your email address (I won't publish it) and we can take that conversation offline. I think I've put most of my ideas for getting around the non-compete on this blog in one place or another--I'd like to hear yours before I publish it.

  3. Here's my situation (and I'm still trying to see if this applies to me also)... I was discharged from my FT position as an analyst at a hospital last month, and I have multiple Epic certifications. Until I read your blog today, I wasn't aware of the non-compete clause. Because I was discharged, do I still have to wait or am I able to apply for another Epic position with a consulting firm immediately? And if I do have to wait, how do I find out what that time frame is? Thank you so much for all of your help!

    1. If your hospital was engaged in any sort of go-live in the last 90 days, then you may have to wait. If not, go ahead and apply immediately.

      If you have any of the HR paperwork from when you started the position, it should tell you if you have to sit out a non-compete.

  4. Go-live is not scheduled until October. The hospital had us sign a contract that said we had to stay for 2 years, but if we left we would have to pay back the training money, but that was all I remember it said. You have been so helpful!

  5. When filling out the questionnaire, do we need to put that we were fired even though we quit because we were asked to leave?

    1. If you say you quit, you're not entitled to any benefits. If the form has a checkbox, select "fired." If it's short answer, you "were asked to leave/resign."

      I always say I was fired. There's no longer a stigma associated with that. Every single time I said that I was fired to someone that doesn't know Epic's culture, I was met with this: "Layoffs? This economy..."

  6. Hi,
    I heard that if you get fired, you'll receive 40% of your salary as unemployment (from some fund that Epic has to pay into), but if you leave voluntarily, Epic doesn't have to pay unemployment. Is that true?

    1. It's 40%, up to a maximum of $363, if my memory serves. There are faqs on the DWD page linked at the top of this post that might have more specific and up-to-date information. And as far as I know you only get that money if you're fired, not if you leave "voluntarily."

      Letting yourself get fired is counter-intuitive, but Epic's own policies help you here. The most that they'll tell people asking about your references is "yes, X did work here." If you left under questionable circumstances, Epic isn't going to tell future employers, and neither will they tell future employers if you were a model employee.

      I suppose they give the Wisconsin Dept of Workforce Development a little more information, specifically whether you were fired or not, so the DWD can send you a check. From personal experience, I told everyone I was fired, and the checks came until I found work several months later.

  7. I have another question... my time at my previous employer was short (9 months) and in that time I did get certified. However, I wasn't there long enough to really learn all the aspects of building like I should have. Now I am at a new site, and they have already gone live but everything is a mess. Do you know anyone (or can you yourself) who might be willing and able to help out so I don't look like a complete idiot? Unfortunately, none of my previous contacts at my former job are able to assist, mostly because they are gone now too.... thanks for all you do!

    1. If you have userweb access at your current employer, I'd suggest studying that extensively. The documentation on Galaxy is usually completely useless for advanced technical support, but it's half-decent for new build.

      That should give you a good end point. If you need help get from your current state to what Epic thinks you should have, it's time to contact your TS.

  8. I received the list of third party agreements and it includes tons recruiting agencies in the Midwest - does that mean I can't get work from them - even if the job is not related to heathcare?

    The list of third party agreements is so long, has so many businesses on it that are not exclusively healthcare related - how am I supposed to find work? I do not want to get blacklisted just to make ends meet during my non-compete; does anybody have any advice?

    1. You can ask the agencies themselves--the agreement is against working for them, not against talking to them. They'll know if it's ok to work in non-healthcare jobs during the non-compete.

      If the recruiting agencies say that you can't work for them in any industry, I'd suggest getting a lawyer. "Tortious employment interference" isn't ok.