Whether you chose to leave your job or it chose to leave you, one day you have a consistent, set life routine and the next day you don’t. Being unemployed is often a tedious, overwhelming life experience.
We all know that everyone reacts differently to change. Having been laid off from my job at an educational non-profit in July 2016, here’s some advice that I’m taking myself for how to stay motivated while unemployed.
Create a Schedule
Suddenly, you have a lot more time on your hands, and to avoid the black hole of hopelessness and lack of motivation, it’s essential to create structure for your day. Business Insider published a great infographic that outlines a sample daily schedule for the unemployed. Of course, your schedule can change at the drop of a dime while unemployed due to last minute networking events, phone calls, interviews, etc., but having a general schedule to work from each day is so helpful in making your time purposeful.
I can personally attest to how much more productive I feel since I’ve started a daily schedule for myself, which starts by getting up and doing a quick Daily Yoga video each morning, eating breakfast, and then diving into the job search grind. I’ll take a break for lunch then network (aka LinkedIn stalk), work on my blog, and job search a little more before calling it quits for the day. Job searching is like a full-time job, and I recently I have found myself struggling to totally follow my schedule, which I built to find balance. I have to get better at taking breaks, going outside, and being more active since I am sitting ALL day in front of a computer now.
Writing about your life experiences, both positive and negative, is a great way to express yourself and paint a picture of who you are and where you want to be in the future. During a season of unemployment, you may deal with negative feelings about yourself that you’ve never felt before (I know my ego was destroyed after getting laid off because I’ve never been dismissed from a job before). On the other hand, you may have a huge mental breakthrough and find your life’s purpose during this time – having a written record of your season of unemployment will be invaluable for finding mental clarity and seeing how you’ve handled adversity and grown as an individual and professional over time.
Learn a New Skill
Never felt like you had the time out of work to learn that new skill you were intrigued by? Now you do! In this Digital Age of technology, it’s so easy to go online and find a course on whatever topic you want to learn more about. Not only does taking an online course engage your mind in learning something new, but it’s also a great talking point with potential employers when they ask about your season of unemployment. Being able to speak to your new skill set will also show potential employers that you’re proactive and making the most of your time.
One great online learning community that I have fallen in love with is Skillshare, where they say that everyone is a teacher. The site has bite-sized online courses about so many things – growing a business, design, cooking, music, photography, and more! Each class is project-based, which means that at the end the teacher gives you a call to action to actually go out and do whatever the project is and to post it on the class project page. It also has a great community of teachers, learners, and Skillshare staff. While there are hundreds of free classes, Skillshare does have a membership program for its approximately 8,000 premium classes. It’s $10/month and you can cancel anytime. However, you can get 3 months of Skillshare premium right now for only 99 cents (I just signed up for this and am enrolled in 3 different premium classes). If you’d like to learn more, click here.
There’s no better time than now to connect with old friends and colleagues. Be honest about your unemployment situation – this kind of thing happens to people all the time. People will empathize with you. You never know, maybe your friend knows someone who works at your dream company and can get you connected with them (six degrees of separation, right?). So far, being genuine and proactive has gotten me two phone calls with two different companies that I would both love to work for, and now I’m on each of their radars the next time they have a role fit for me.
Not only is it important to stay connected with your friends and family during unemployment, but it’s also important to meet new people. Over and over again I have heard how 80 percent of jobs are not advertised – networking is essential to finding your next role in today’s job market! Working in New York City has its benefits – there are countless meetup and networking groups in the city (and in most cities). You can join a meetup group for your industry, a hobby/interest, or for networking. It’s actually pretty fun to go to a new place, usually have some hors d’oeuvres, and chat with interesting people. You can check out www.meetup.com to learn more about opportunities to connect in your city. Before I go to a networking event, I always tell myself, “Everyone knows something I don’t. Learn more about what they know.”
At the end of the day, creating a schedule, journaling, learning a new skill, and connecting with people is good advice for anyone to take, but I think it’s especially helpful for those of us who have a lot of time to manage on our hands and want to make the most of it.
How are you spending your time? What other strategies do you use to stay motivated and proactive while job searching?