Survival Tips for the Unemployed

27 01 2011

Don’t panic! It may be the first time you’ve lost your job, or the 5th time.  Either way, you have experience dealing with loss and the unexpected.

  • Take some deep breaths
  • Gather up your resources – your support system (family, friends, other), your finances (know what you have and what you need), recall how you’ve handled difficult times before
  • Do something you enjoy (that doesn’t cost a lot of money) – it’s important to remind yourself that all is not lost, and that it is Ok to keep on living and having some fun/joy
  • Take some more deep breaths

Apply for Unemployment benefits immediately, unless you are still on the payroll.  It’s not usually enough to live on for an extended period of time, but it does help.

Don’t tell everyone about losing your job! Share the news with those close whom you trust.  There is a tendency to rush out, tell everyone the bad news, and ask for help.  You’re going to need your network to help you, so you need to be prepared so you don’t scare anyone away.

Get organized! Set aside a place to conduct your job search with a:

  • Phone
  • Computer
  • Printer/fax
  • Office supplies
  • Lack of distractions

Prepare a daily and weekly plan! Organize and schedule your day and week – time for networking, internet job searching, recruiters, outside activities (networking events, job fairs, meetings).  Break up the day so that you’re not doing one thing all day.  Make time for exercise.  Get up as you did for work and get dressed.  Avoid errands, laundry, TV, etc. during the daytime.  Focus your internet job searching in the evening, whenever possible.  Set daily and weekly goals for networking – calls, emails and meetings.

Focus your Job Search! Figure out what you want to do.  Conduct some market research to determine what is realistic.  Split your time between networking and formal job searching – since networking accounts for 50% or more of the jobs found, it is reasonable to spend 50% of your time networking.  Contact quality recruiters who you know, or are recommended by others you trust, and who have experience and clients in your field and location.

Organize your Finances! Prepare a cash flow budget for the next 6 to 12 months.  You do not know how long it will take to find a job, and many job seekers underestimate their financial needs.  Include all current income sources, review and prioritize your savings, and review and prioritize your expenses (separate the non-discretionary from the discretionary).  Allow yourself some spending for fun – it is important that you still have some fun (see next)!

Have some fun! Do things that you enjoy and that do not cost you a lot of money – physical activities such as hiking, playing sports and games, running/walking/working out, free or low-cost museums, the beach, the park, etc.  Buy some discount movie tickets.  Use coupons and discounts to eat out occasionally.  It is essential that you maintain a positive attitude, and since job searching is frustrating and most unenjoyable, you need to generate some positive endorphins to keep yourself going.

Take it one day at a time! This may be a short walk or a long marathon, but either way, take it one day at a time.  Don’t look back, except to learn from your missteps and mistakes.  Look forward, stick with your plan – make changes to improve your results – and keep your eyes on the goal – to get a new job.

Be realistic (and optimistic)! Depending on your personal situation, – your financial status as well as your job experience and skills vs. the current market in your area – be realistic about the job you’re willing to consider and accept.  As a career coach, I have always encouraged pursuing your dreams, but in today’s job market, I advocate realism combined with optimism.  Go after what you want, but be flexible (sooner than later) to consider other options, in case what you want is not so available.  Remember that there are millions of unemployed, so you are competing with a lot of other great candidates.  Don’t take too much time ignoring the realities – the longer you are unemployed, the more frustrated you’ll feel and the more difficult will be the job search.

Consider short-term options! Consider part-time and temporary opportunities to bring in some income and give you a place to go.  Part-time and temp positions and contracts also provide new experiences and skills, and add to your network with the contacts you make at these companies.  Some temp jobs convert to permanent positions.

Consider classes and training! Now might be a great time to consider a career change, or catching up on some training for skill enhancement.

Keep in touch! Don’t hide in your job searching cave.  Remember your support system.  Spend time with family and friends who are supportive.  Keep in touch with your network, not only to ask for help, but to maintain your relationships.  Show interest in others, and they are more likely to have interest in you.  Get out of your home and be with people!

Add to your network! Meet new people through people you know.  Use social networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) to connect with people you don’t know.  Attend networking groups.  Attend professional associations.   Get involved with groups that share your interests – religious organizations, athletics, volunteer, etc.

Volunteer! Volunteering gives you a place to go and gets you out of your home.  Volunteering can bring you new experiences and skills.  Volunteering makes you feel better about yourself as you are giving to and helping others.  You will meet new people which will add to your network.  Help out with local job support groups – you’ll meet other job seekers, learn from them and get help as well.

Maintain a positive attitude! Job searching is frustrating, rejecting and can feel like a hopeless venture.  Yet, you need to maintain a positive attitude, to keep yourself going, and to be able to convince employers to want to hire you.  They won’t hire someone who interviews in a depressed mood.  Remember how you have successfully handled previous disappointments and setbacks.  Maintain your physical health.  As above, take time to have some fun.  Utilize your personal resources to get you up every day and past the obstacles.

For more information about resume preparation, job search, networking, and interviewing, please read my other blog posts.

What else has helped you through your job search?  Please share …

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One response

27 01 2011
LKitsch

Great advice. I’ve been there!

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