As a single mom of 9 years, with over 5 years in software sales & customer service and a background in education on my resume, I have found myself in a very vulnerable spot. I am unemployed. I want to use this experience to offer help for any other moms or families going through a similar situation. I’ve learned a lot during my now 7 week journey and here is a compilation of the top 11 tips if you find yourself unemployed. 

I understand that what I am recommending may not be the right fit for everyone, but know that there are programs to assist you. Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Today is not meant to be depressing {although the subject matter isn’t light}, but rather informative should you find yourself in this situation. 

It’s only fitting that I am writing this on Mother’s Day.

11 Unemployment Tips for Single Parents

11 Tips to Help if You Are Unemployed

1. Don’t panic. (Easier said than done) Remember that there are thousands of people in your same position RIGHT NOW. You aren’t the only one. Don’t be too proud to do what you need to do to take care of your family. A lot of people you probably would never suspect, have had to ask for help and have had hard times when providing for their family after a job loss.

2. Apply for unemployment funds

  • Unemployment: File Immediately! The TexasWorkforce Commission is a great resource. If you are denied unemployment, you can appeal the decision up to two times.
  • Tenure: To qualify, you need to have been with your employer at least 12 months.

3. Unemployment Do’s:

  • DO begin work searches immediately.There will be a minimum amount set that you have to complete weekly so get started early.
  • DO begin your job search immediately
  • DO keep a spreadsheet. Keep track of all correspondence, where you’ve applied, emails, interviews, etc.
  • DO file for your payment every 2 weeks, even if you can’t collect.
  • DO log on to and set your minimum pay requirements, job location criteria, etc, so the job alerts you receive will match what you are looking for.
  • DO adjust your criteria so the software will recognize that you are a match and can in fact apply in the event you are denied application.

4. Don’t underestimate the importance of making real connections during your job search. 

  • LinkedIn is the best place to network. It’s your living breathing, resume. I have several recommendations from former managers, coworkers and partners on my LinkedIn. Plus, you can search by job title or for Human Resource managers at companies you want to work for, and then send them a connection request. (Try to only do this if you have mutual connections, however). Once connected, you can send mail and they can view your profile and look at your past work history.
  • Networking Groups: Austin Business Journal has a list of the Top 5, but there are even more resources available to you in Austin. It is so important to stay connected whether you are unemployed for 3 days or 3 months.

5. Training Resources.

  • If you do your job searches, and you are receiving unemployment, you can call your unemployment office and they might be able to help you get training that you need to go into a new field.
  • Job Seeker Network in Austin has a great class that you can use to evaluate your passions and your values.

6. Food and Medical Programs

  • Apply for SNAP by calling their local office. Here’s the application.  If you are caring for a child, be sure to check the box that says you are caring for a child, so you won’t have to go to the in-person interview and you can do the phone option instead.
  • Go to MyTexasBenefits or  StateAgencyForms and find form H1028 to download for your employer to sign and return to you, if you live in Texas.
  • One thing worth noting, is that if you apply for TANF, you will have to forfeit your child support.
  • Medical insurance: If any children in your household receive insurance benefits through another person, then you won’t be able to get Medicaid. As an adult, you can only get government health insurance supplements if your children also apply and get on CHIP. Otherwise, you will have to call your local county to get medical services and they operate on a sliding scale. Remember that these services are not immediate (at least 30 days).
  • Lonestar Food Card: Do a test purchase.  There is nothing more embarrassing than having to use the card in the first place, but having your card declined in the checkout line on a Friday at HEB is even more mortifying. Trust me… I’m speaking from experience if you can’t tell. Unfortunately for me, on Mother’s day weekend of all weekends, it was cereal for days. Thank goodness we had milk. And no, you can’t get wine with SNAP, but you can get these items.  Also, some local churches have food pantries that are open during certain hours.

7. Outstanding medical bills or debts

Most credit card agencies will offer programs that reduce or eliminate your payments while you are unemployed if you qualify. Usually it will take 30 days to hear back once you submit the information they need from you.

8. Childcare resources 

Some places like the YMCA will offer financial assistance. Be sure to have copies of all your documents.  Sometimes membership fees will be reduced or waived, but it’s usually on a sliding scale depending on your current job status, income, and how many total people are in need of assistance.

9. Emergency Rent and Utility Assistance 

There are several resources available should you find yourself in a dire situation where unemployment stretches longer than anticipated. Here are a few.

10. Resources at School 

  • Free Lunch Program: Depending on your school district, you just go online, fill out the form and next thing you know, your child can get free or reduced lunch if they qualify. VERY important note: Some online forms will ask for your SNAP benefits number. If you haven’t yet been approved for SNAP, then you can still get free lunches for your child if you go to the income form instead (if you qualify).
  • Clothes Closet: They do have a clothes closet at a few schools where you can pick up a few pairs of shirts, pants, new packaged undies and socks for your child but you’ll need a voucher from your child’s school nurse.

11. Keep all your important phone numbers in one place. Don’t give up hope. Rest. Make Goals.

  • You can also call 2-1-1 to get answers to any lingering questions you might have because I don’t know everything.
  • Make a list of goals.
  • Network! Ask your friends and family to keep an eye out for job positions that suit your experience.
  • Utilize food pantries and charities for assistance while you are job hunting and/or working part time.
  • Report any changes in income or job status to the Texas Workforce Commission and to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services

Remember that there is one guarantee in life, and that’s that nothing is permanent. So chances are, you won’t be stuck in this situation forever.

Laura HinsonUPDATE: We are thrilled to report that Laura has now found a new Account Management job after 2 full months of unemployment! She hopes this article provides you with the resources you need to bounce back successfully and better before, after a job loss or career change.




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