Life has a way of throwing curveballs. Even if you’ve done everything right – for instance, preparing for retirement with a well-planned investment strategy – circumstances don’t always cooperate. A lot of older workers are learning that the hard way when they get fired during the last few years before retirement. If that happens to you, here are a few things you can do to get your plans back on track.
Update your résumé.
Your first step is to update your résumé, especially if you’ve been at your current job for a long time. Be sure to include any new skills or responsibilities you gained since your last update. One of the most important things you can do is to learn how résumés work in the digital age – loading your résumé with keywords from the job posting, for instance.
Update your online presence.
Recruiters frequently hop online to checkout prospective candidates. If you don’t already have accounts with the major social networks – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. – get them set up now, and start posting so that you’ll have a footprint for recruiters to find.
Adjust your investment strategy.
Talk to a financial advisor about whether this would be a good time to adjust your investments. Most advisors recommend shifting to lower-risk investments as you near retirement, anyway. If you’ve been focused on capital growth, this may be a good time to look at preserving capital instead, and choosing investments that pay dividends could help supplement your income. Everybody is different, though, and there are tax implications involved, so make sure you get expert advice from someone who knows your situation.
Make sure you’re covered.
If you live in the U.S. and get insurance through your employer, losing coverage is one of the more worrisome aspects of getting fired. Try to negotiate continued coverage with your employer. You’d have to pay the premiums that were previously taken out of your check, but you’d have insurance for whatever time period you negotiate. You also have a limited window where you can join your spouse’s plan rather than waiting until the next open enrollment period. And you have up to 60 days from the time your former insurance ends to buy coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace, even if it’s outside of an open enrollment period.
Many people feel some embarrassment about being fired and instinctively go underground for a while. That’s the worst thing to do. The best strategy is to hit the ground running while all of your relationships with colleagues, vendors, customers, etc. are still fresh. The people you worked with in your current job know you and your skillset better than anyone else.
Decide whether you need to readjust your goals.
It’s important to start networking quickly, but, in between those emails and phone calls, give some thought to what you really want to do next. Do you have enough saved to go ahead and retire now, even if that wasn’t the original plan? If you don’t have enough savings to retire, do you have enough to take a lower-paying job with less responsibility and less stress? You may decide that you’re not quite ready to bail out of the rat race. On the other hand, you could also come to the conclusion that getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to you.
Getting fired is always stressful, and it’s even more so when the goal you’ve been working toward your whole life is almost within your reach. Don’t let an unexpected job loss derail all of the plans you’ve made for your retirement. You’ll have to get there a different way than you thought you would, but you can still do it.