Losing your job can be an incredibly stressful and challenging time. In Kenya, unemployment rates have been on the rise in recent years, leaving many without stable income. While looking for new work, it’s important to take care of both your mental and financial health. This guide will provide tips for coping with job loss in a healthy way and navigating the unemployment system in Kenya.
1. Accept Your Emotions
It’s normal to feel a range of difficult emotions after losing your job – grief, anger, anxiety, depression. Don’t ignore them. Give yourself time and space to process these feelings. Talk to loved ones, write in a journal, or even see a counselor if you need support. Suppressing emotions will only prolong the pain.
2. Structure Your Days
Without a set schedule, days can easily blur together. Combat aimlessness by building structure. Wake up and go to bed at set times, eat meals at consistent times, and keep up with hygiene. You can even write out daily to-do lists with both bigger goals related to the job search and small pleasures like reading or walking. Having this routine will help you feel more centered.
3. Lean on Your Support System
Don’t isolate yourself if possible. Spend time with people who uplift you and provide empathy instead of judgment. Confide in close friends and family about how you’re feeling. Depending on your financial situation, you may need to ask for help occasionally with expenses like meals or bills. There’s no shame in reaching out.
4. Take Care of Your Body
Stress takes a toll on the body. Be intentional about diet, exercise, sleep, and other self-care basics. Prepare healthy meals, go for walks or do home workouts, turn off screens an hour before bed, and don’t rely on substances to cope. Caring for your physical self will boost mental health too.
5. Explore Low-Cost Health Resources
If you relied on your former workplace for mental health coverage, look into affordable alternatives like support groups, religious counseling, nonprofit clinics with income-based fees, government subsidized therapy, or online options. Don’t neglect your mental wellness. There are options if you get creative.
6. Adjust Your Budget
With less or no income, you’ll need an emergency fund and pared down budget. Calculate necessary living expenses like food, housing, utilities, transportation and medical. Cut non-essential costs where possible, prioritizing needs over wants. Explore local food banks and charities if money is extremely tight. Revise the budget regularly.
7. Apply for Unemployment Benefits
Kenya offers government unemployment benefits you’ve likely paid into. The National Employment Authority administers claims. You must actively be looking for work and provide required documents. Payouts can take time, so apply ASAP. The income may be less than you made before, but it can help cover basics while job hunting.
8. Research Other Assistance Programs
Besides unemployment insurance, find out what other federal, local and nonprofit assistance is available. Can you get help with food, housing, utilities, medical costs or job training? Eligibility varies, but explore things like:
- Food banks or stamps
- Rent and utility relief
- Reduced medical fees
- Workforce development programs
- Cash assistance
These services combined make surviving unemployment more feasible.
9. Leverage Your Network
Most jobs are found through personal connections, so networking is crucial while unemployed. Tell friends, relatives, former colleagues and acquaintances that you’re looking. Share your resume and skills. Attend industry events and conferences if possible. Reach out to old bosses or professors as references. You never know who might know of an opportunity.
10. Craft an Effective Resume
Your resume is often the first impression you’ll make. Ensure it’s polished and tailored for each application. Highlight transferable skills gained from past roles. Use powerful action verbs. Keep formatting consistent and easy to scan. Ask a friend or career counselor to review it. Having an excellent resume gets your foot in the door.
11. Search for Jobs Strategically
Cast a wide net when job hunting. Check company websites, job boards, newspaper listings, professional associations and networking events. Customize your approach and materials for each opening. Search thoughtfully, not desperately. Apply to jobs suited to your abilities so you don’t waste time on long shots. Create systems to organize the search process.
12. Prepare for Interviews
Interview preparation will ease nerves and help you make a strong case for your candidacy. Research the company and role thoroughly. Polish your personal pitch and practice responses to common questions. Anticipate what you’ll be asked. Review your qualifications and skills. Dress professionally and arrive early. Follow up promptly with thank you notes.
13. Explore Continuing Education
If struggling to find work in your previous field, take time to gain new skills. Consider short-term vocational programs that expand your options. Many fields now expect certifications or technology expertise. By developing your talents, you may discover even better career matches than before.
14. Consult Career Counselors
Get unbiased guidance on your search from pros. Visit your local workforce development office for free help with your resume, interview skills and strategy. Schedule sessions with career coaches, recruiters or mentors for insider advice. Counselors can point out things you may miss on your own. Make regular check-ins.
15. Work Temporary or Freelance Jobs
Bring in some income with short-term gigs while continuing the job hunt. Sign up with a staffing agency for temp work or look for freelance clients. Explore ride share driving or food delivery apps. Tutoring, manual labor, data entry, transcription or consulting are other options. Any earnings help cushion the financial strain of unemployment.
16. Stay Persistent Through Setbacks
The job search itself can feel like a full time job. It’s easy to get discouraged when leads fall through or you don’t hear back. Try to keep up motivation and persistence even after rejections. Keep networking, applying and following up. With concerted effort, it’s usually just a matter of time before something works out.
17. View It as a Learning Experience
While certainly difficult, time spent unemployed can also provide lessons and clarity. How do you want your career to progress from here? Were you happy with your previous job path? Use self-reflection now to make choices aligned with your goals and values moving forward. This period will reveal a lot about what you truly desire in work and life.
Losing a job and entering unemployment is a major life transition. Give yourself grace through the ups and downs. With concerted effort across these tips, you can overcome job loss, care for your whole self, and ultimately use this challenge as a launching point to something even better professionally. Stay encouraged! Consistent, positive action will open new doors.