Living in any country without a secure source of income is always a terrifying thought, but you do not need to panic.
In Italy, ordinary unemployment benefits last up to six months. However, in order to qualify for this allowance, workers must not have voluntarily resigned, and they need to have been insured with the National Institute for Social Security for at least two years before their dismissal and having accumulated at least 52 weeks of contributions.
Whether you have exceeded the claimant period or you were never eligible to receive them at all, you will need to find a way to survive on your own. Ideally, you should have some source of savings you can live off on a temporary basis, until you find new employment. If you are not in a position to receive unemployment benefits from the government, you will benefit from the following top tips below.
1. Pinch Pennies
Depending on where you live in Italy, it can be a very cheap country to survive in. Compared to the rest of Europe, the two main necessities - accommodation and food - are relatively cheap. Consider cutting costs such as flat-sharing - or, if possible, moving back in with your parents - instead of renting your own home. Also, buy food in bulk to eat at home instead of eating out at restaurants, and temporarily cancel any excessive recurrent payments (gym memberships, extracurricular activities, etc). Do not buy any new clothes or gadgets. Explain to your friends that you cannot socialize with them until you find new employment - they will understand.
Record all of your outgoing expenses in a spreadsheet, so you know exactly where all of your money is going. The more you can cut back on non-essentials, the less pressure you will be under, in order to find a new job immediately.
2. Do Everything in Your Power to Find Work
Unless you are incredibly lucky and happen to be a high-flying hotshot in your industry, a new job is not simply going to fall into your lap. You will have to work for it. This means spending several hours every day searching for a new job, in every source you can find. Check generic job-hunting websites and employment agencies as well as sites which are specific to your career.
Make sure your resume is up to date, and write convincing cover letters for each job you apply for. In the absence of a real job, job hunting should feel like your full-time job!
3. Don’t be Afraid to Look Outside The Box
A lot of people are selective in their job searching pursuits. If you have an endless supply of savings to live off, then by all means be as picky as you like until you stumble across your dream position. But mere mortals should be a little more open-minded.
Apply for every job you can, and never dismiss a job for being “beneath" you. Perhaps this bout of unemployment has come at the perfect time to inspire a career change!
If times get really tough, you will have to face the possibility of doing anything to get by - even if that means picking up garbage or cleaning toilets! If you are feeling ashamed or embarrassed, remember that working a minimum wage job is significantly more appealing than being homeless.
4. Ensure You Are Not Eligible For CIG
As well as unemployment benefits, Italy also offers Cassa Integrazione Guadagni (CIG). This is a state fund for certain individuals who have been made temporarily redundant through no fault of their company - for example, a natural disaster or market crisis. The percentage of the salary you will receive and for what period varies on a case-by-case basis.
5. Consider Selling Your Possessions
This may sound extreme, but if times are tough, you have got to do what you have got to do! Do you have any junk lying around your home you would not miss? You could hold a yard sale for smaller, less expensive items such as clothing, books and DVDs, and consider auctioning off some of your larger possessions (art, jewellery, etc) using a website such as Ebay.
6. Be Kind to Yourself
When you are unemployed and feeling frustrated at the prospect of a never-ending and often hopeless job search, it can be extremely easy to talk negatively about yourself. Instead of locking yourself inside from morning to night searching for a new job, also take time to support your own physical and mental health. Go for a walk, reconnect with friends who may be in a similar position, and have faith that you will soon be back on your feet.
Although it is a situation which is far from ideal, the tips above demonstrate that surviving in Italy without unemployment benefits is entirely possible - and it is an everyday reality for the 12.9 percent of Italian residents who are currently unemployed.
Ever been through this situation? Share your experiences in the comments section below.