What Now? Navigating Unemployment

Losing your job can be a stressful and uncertain time. But there are steps you can take to make sure this transition is as seamless as possible.

You can take these lessons in resilience, both from CF and from other areas of your life and apply them to things like work or a career. When you’re facing a deadline or things get tough or you’re interviewing for a competitive job opportunity, you can lean on that level of resilience.”

–John, tech worker living with cystic fibrosis (CF)

Making ends meet

One of the first major concerns that comes with losing a job may be “how am I going to pay my bills?” Keep these tips in mind as you take a close look at your finances:

  • File for unemployment insurance benefits as soon as you can. Just keep in mind that the amount you'll get depends on many factors, such as where you live and how long you've worked

  • If you have an emergency fund set aside, this may be the time to use it

  • If it looks like you might be between jobs for an extended period of time, take some time to reassess your budget. Are there spending categories that you can reduce or eliminate, even temporarily? Do you have family members or close friends who you could reach out to for help?

Insurance matters

Living with a chronic condition means that finding adequate health insurance may be another major consideration if you lose coverage through your job. Consider these options:

  • COBRA* allows you to stay on your former employer’s insurance for at least 18 months. Because COBRA requires you to pay the full cost of your insurance premium (including the portion that your employer may have been paying), you should expect your insurance costs to go up

  • If you have a spouse or parent with group insurance, losing your own insurance may mean that you are eligible to become a beneficiary on a plan that you declined in the past. This choice must be made within 30 days of losing coverage

  • The Health Insurance Marketplace for private health care also provides you with special enrollment period of 60 days if you lose job-based coverage

  • You may also qualify for government insurance programs like Medicare or Medicaid

* COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985.

Finding your next role

It’s okay to grieve the loss of a job. Even if you’re not ready to jump into a job hunt, think about taking time to do some soul-searching to identify what your working future might look like, using these tips:

  • Reassess your field of work and your work-life balance. What will you look for in your next job?

  • Try thinking about your skills, not your job title. Skills like communication, problem solving, or project management are so versatile that they can be used in many different fields

  • Reach out to former coworkers and friends for advice. An outside perspective can help you to think through the pros and cons of former and future jobs, and you never know when someone is looking to fill a position

The pandemic changed everything for me as an actor and singer and gig worker. I really had to shift my focus into writing and producing which is something that has grown massively as a passion for me over the past couple of years.”

–Julia, performer living with CF 

[I’ve made some] small concessions. One example might be choosing not to go into arguably a more lucrative opportunity…at the time I decided it was not the right decision for me given the travel demands.”

–John, tech worker living with CF

Read More About Careers

Read more about finding a job that works for you


Listen to John’s career journey