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You've Lost Your Job. What's Next?

Take stock of your assets, regroup and focus on finding employment

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Define your work and financial goals: Pick up Great Jobs for Everyone 50+ today!

Sudden job loss can leave you reeling. You’re overwhelmed, wondering, “What do I do? What about my family?”

See also: 5 great part-time jobs.

This is a devastating reality for many workers particularly in uncertain economic times, especially older employees who currently average 54.2 weeks of unemployment before finding another job.

Everyone’s circumstances are different. If you’ve been a long-standing employee earning a progressive salary and benefits, you may be eligible for a severance package, health insurance under COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) if your former employer offers it and you can afford it, and unemployment insurance (These days, you can file online and avoid waiting and longelines). Together, these might give you the time and financial resources to stay on top of your bills until you land your next job.

If you’ve established an emergency fund covering at least six months of regular expenses, you may feel less anxious if you become unemployed. But for most, panic, understandably, is the obvious response to job loss.

A recent study, "Temporary Derailment or the End of the Line? Managers Coping With Unemployment at 50," looked at coping strategies of people whose identities were wrapped up in position, status and achievements, and who were laid off late in their careers.

Next: 3 ways to look at your job loss. »

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