The prospect of unemployment may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to signify the end of your career. In fact, a period of unemployment can signal the beginning of something bigger and better for your work life than continuing at the same old job.
Unemployment can be some of the best days, weeks, and dare I say years of your life. However, that's only if you approach it properly and get smart about it. The period in between jobs should be a time of learning and gaining. Put to bed the depressing feeling of temporary unemployment and start to see the potential for career and personal growth with this "time off".
So what's the best way to put your unemployment time to work? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Blogging and content creation
If you’re not already blogging or using your talents and knowledge to create consumable content, you probably should be. Never underestimate the power of becoming a content creator, whether through articles, videos, or podcasts. It’s a brilliant way to not only spend time doing something fun, but also has the potential to lead to a side hustle or a full-on career.
When it comes to content creation, think about your own personality and career desires. You may enjoy writing, animation, drawing, being in front to the camera or behind the camera, or speaking your thoughts into a microphone. Putting together a place to showcase your interests and talents is a brilliant way to demonstrate initiative and knowledge. Equally importantly, it acts as a discoverable and shareable online portfolio of your work.
Don’t be too concerned with professionalism and don't worry too much about readership or audience. Start blogging as a method of personal advancement, and if you grow popular, you can then start considering how to grow your reach. And remember that it's something to represent you. Approach blogging like a showcase of your personality. Keep it real and genuine.
You’ve probably already heard of the benefits of volunteering during stints of unemployment, and there’s a reason it’s so highly recommended. Not only does volunteering benefit your career prospects — it looks amazing on a resume — it helps you learn how to work in a dynamic and low-budget environment while helping others.
On a personal note, volunteering also helps to shift your focus away from only the negatives of unemployment. Suddenly finding yourself out of work can do a number on your confidence. Volunteering can help increase self-esteem, make you feel confident in your abilities, and make you feel productive at a time when you're not on the job. It also encourages you to put to use skills and experience you have acquired from previous roles and reminds you to find the joy in what you do.
So whether you’re volunteering at an elementary school, cat shelter, or offering your services to local business, you’ll soon find yourself back on track. And remember that many volunteer roles can lead to permanent jobs, so get out there and show the world what you can do.
We all know we’re supposed to get as much exercise as possible. Exercise has tremendous mental and physical benefits, especially during periods of unemployment where we are more likely to develop signs of depression, helplessness, and hopelessness. This vicious cycle can be broken by staying healthy in mind and body. It's not easy, however, when you feel sluggish and down about your situation. The last thing you want to do is get moving, so you wallow in self-pity.
Put a stop to this immediately.
It may not be the quick fix to your situation, but exercise, and the effort it takes to get healthy, is invaluable in the long run. Exercise helps you tackle your unhappiness because it releases hormones that perk up your mood. The feelings of productivity, staying in motion, and good health all work to prepare you to physically and mentally take your job search seriously and step back into the working world.
Don’t sleep on the benefits of keeping fit. It’ll probably be the best decision you can make during unemployment.
Studying and training
For some people, the pursuit of knowledge during unemployment can mean a career shift or the acquiring of essential skills to get back into the workforce. Studying during unemployment is a great way to keep your mind active while you search for the right role. It also helps keep you from going stir crazy during the job hunt.
Whether you obtain a recognized academic qualification to bump up your academic achievements, or pursue a professional certificate to add to your professional experience, you’ll be demonstrating an important attribute that excites employers: initiative. Showing drive and the effective use of your time and skills puts you a cut above your competition in the job market.
Be sure not to fall into the trap education or training as a way to avoid getting back into the workplace. Learning is beneficial to your career, but not at the expense of putting off the job search. Studying should add to your career, not distract you from what you really want to do. Forking out huge amounts of money and investing your unemployment time in pursuits you feel don’t benefit your career goals only prolongs the situation.
It’s perfectly okay to take some time off to regroup and focus on self-care and your hobbies, especially if the working world has been less than welcoming. But make sure it's a healthy balance between looking for work, learning something new, and getting the rest you need to start your next job with energy.
Now is the perfect time to brush up on your career and job search best practices. Consider unemployment as the gift of free time. Sharpen up on your interview skills, attend career days and training events, give your resume a makeover, freshen up on your computer skills, call upon and notify your references, and network like crazy. You’re in a wonderful position where you’re busy and preoccupied with trying to find work but have the space and time to do it properly and with gusto. Don’t take this time for granted.
Unemployment doesn't have to spell disaster, and can often be a blessing in disguise. Staying productive — and not simply staying busy — during a period of unemployment will keep your mind sharp, help you learn new skills, and allow you to sharpen your working mind.