When my position was eliminated, my Boston-based company provided me with very basic information about how to apply for unemployment benefits in Minnesota. My sister-in-law, who works for the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), put me in touch with the Dislocated Worker Program. I was eligible for this program because of my age and because the job market would make it challenging for me to find similar employment. For people whose jobs move offshore, additional benefits are available from a different funding source.
For those of you in the US but outside of Minnesota, the Dislocated Worker Program is federally funded. This site gives some information about it, and contains links to contacts for the various states.
I had to go to one of my county’s workforce centers to apply for the dislocated worker benefits. It was a few weeks before they contacted me letting me know that I was accepted for the program, and advising me of an orientation session I needed to attend. Directly after the orientation I was assigned an adviser, and the first thing we discussed was whether additional training would help me to be more employable. There was funding available, so I registered for three classes at a community college in my county, value of a little over $2000 – my tax dollars at work. The classes we chose definitely address gaps in my training and experience, and include both in-person and online training.
The workforce centers and the advisers also provide other services – classes on numerous job search related topics, written materials, a job search support group, helpful links to job sites and community resources, office space and computer time for those who need it, and one-on-one help with job search strategy, resumes, interviewing, etc. There are resources specifically for older workers, and also information on starting a business or doing consulting work.
Since employers often don’t provide much help in this area, I hope that if any of you find yourself out of work you’ll investigate this useful but often hidden resource.