FIRST-PERSON: When your 'new job' is finding a job

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP)--Sept. 11, 2001, resulted in the senseless deaths of thousands and in job losses for countless numbers of families. However, even before the terrorist attacks, many individuals and families all across our nation were suffering from job loss. Perhaps you are too.

Job loss ranks high as a stress maker. The emotional upheaval can be very upsetting, and anger may top the list because this major life change often leaves a person feeling totally out of control.

Obviously, reduced income significantly increases your need to make sound financial choices. However, the problem is that when you're in the middle of a crisis it's not easy to know just how to do that.

Organizations such as Consumer Credit Counseling Service often can help you negotiate with your creditors. The Atlanta CCCS office (888-771-4673 or www.cccsatl.org) works with people in any area of the country. Crown Financial Ministries' network of trained volunteer budget counselors also may be able to help during this difficult financial transition. You may call Crown at 1-800-722-1976 or visit www.crown.org for more information.

Your new "job" is to find a job. However, the trauma of job loss requires time for healing and evaluating what has happened. Unfortunately, many people don't have the luxury of time for emotional healing because bills pile up, groceries need to be bought and mortgages have to be paid. Most people simply don't have adequate savings for such emergencies.

So, if you've lost your job, there are several things you should do.

List your financial assets:

-- Immediately take stock of your finances. Include savings, spendable assets, income, any severance pay and unemployment compensation.

-- Develop a short-term financial plan.

-- Know your bottom-line monthly needs and include all bills.

-- Cut expenses in every way possible. Yes, that could mean things like cable, cell phones and so forth.

-- Arrange a plan with creditors that will reduce payments on a temporary basis.

-- Project the cash you will have available for a short-term budget and determine a timeline for how long you can be without work.

-- Let your church know of your need for financial assistance during this transitional period.

Inventory your non-financial assets:

-- Conduct a self-analysis and recognize your transferable skills and career focus so you can present them to a future employer.

-- Outline your work history and identify types of work and responsibilities you've had.

-- Develop a one-page resume (unless you've been employed in the same field 10 years) and be ready to tailor it to fit particular job openings.

-- Think creatively, and if you have the financial resources use this time to learn new skills. Call 1-800-722-1976 or visit www.crown.org to find out more about one of the many career guide resources available from Crown Financial Ministries.

Know your network assets:

-- Use leads from people you know to make direct contact with potential employees.

-- Get involved in a church-sponsored job network group or begin one.

-- Use the Internet for job searches; set and meet goals for daily job search assignments.

Look after your greatest assets:

-- Check your spiritual pulse and that of your family, and be sure you're trusting God.

-- Maintain family devotions, Bible study and prayer. This isn't the time to become a church dropout.

-- Relax, read and relate to family members and others. Avoid excesses of any kind.

-- Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise and spend six to eight hours each day job-hunting.

-- Covenant with your spouse or a friend to hold you accountable for goals in your job search and to encourage you in the process.

Continue to trust God and wait patiently for him to provide your next job. The psalmist wrote, "If I should say, 'My foot has slipped,' Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up" (Psalm 94:18). Christians need to remember this truth in all that occurs. God will hold you up.


Burkett is chairman of the board of Crown Ministries, which merged last year with the ministry he founded in 1976, Christian Financial Concepts. A Southern Baptist layman based in Gainesville, Ga., Burkett is the host of the national "Money Matters" radio program and author of two resources published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention: "How Much Is Enough? 30 Days to Personal Revival" and "Jesus on Money."

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