But keeping your spirits up? Close second.
Unemployment can make you feel embarrassed, unwanted, unviable and upset. You start worrying about the future and panicking about the present. You wonder what your co-workers did right and you did wrong. And if you hear another “Things happen for the best,” you might just claim murder by self-defense.
But guess what? You really do have more resources than you think. Even on those days when you just want to turn off the alarm and call it a year, you owe it to yourself to keep moving onward and upward.
Try these tips to keep yourself focused, on track and (hopefully) out of the doldrums:
1. Get up like you’re going to work—because you are.
Okay, maybe you can hit the snooze button an extra couple of times, but sticking with your usual routine helps give you the structure you’re used to from your job. Unless you’re angling for that coveted mattress-tester career, lying abed all day won’t get you where you want to go.
So get up, get dressed, eat a good breakfast—and get to work finding your next job.
2. Turn off the TV.
Better yet, don’t even go near it. Your time can be hoovered up so fast you’ll be out of prime job-seeking hours before you can change another channel.
Somehow we make time for what we want to do. Don’t get sucked into daytime television, the Weather Channel’s Storm Stories or online games. Retrain yourself to use your “free” hours for polishing your resume, taking an online course, volunteering and getting out and meeting people for coffee or lunch.
Speaking of which…
3. Stay in touch with your network.
Who’s your network? Absolutely everyone you know! And you don’t know everyone they know, so don’t go writing people off just because they’re not in your industry or don’t speak your particular brand of geek.
To make the six degrees of separation work for you, you need to do the reaching out. You know your network best: How do they like to interact? Are they available to chat online during the day? Can you get together for lunch or meet up after hours? Even if you’re the one making all the plans, it’s worth it to keep yourself on their radar when opportunities open up.
4. Give a little LinkedIn love.
Besides stuffing your Summary with industry keywords and keeping your status updated, you need to give people recommendations.
That’s right, “give.” There’s something about receiving an unsolicited reference that generates goodwill and reciprocity. Plus I’ll bet you’ll feel pretty good after you give someone kudos for doing a great job.
Now it’s your turn. Don’t send a blanket recommendation note; individualize it for each contact. If it’s been awhile since you’ve talked to the person, don’t be afraid to jog their memory. “It was an illuminating experience working on Project No Dice with you. I’m glad all the pictures were destroyed.” If they don’t respond, shake it off and move on to the next person who will.
5. Take a free webinar or an online course.
Free webinars are going on all the time, and all you need is a computer with an internet connection. LinkedIn Events, BrightTalk, Hubspot and others all offer webinars for a variety of industries, including how to promote those industries. Use them to keep yourself current with trends and information. For example, because I’m in marketing, I use LinkedIn Events to find social media webinars on everything from ROI to analyzing metrics.
Online courses tend to cost you, but you can uncover treasure troves of free books and training if you know where to look. I’m happy to say that MyPath.com lets you browse book summaries and course descriptions before you even start your free 30-day trial subscription.
6. Step into Twitter.
Even if you think Twitter is a sad waste of valuable brain candy, this trend is worth checking out: Hire Friday. Why? Because recruiters watch it and people get hired through it. With its accompanying live chat (#hfchat) on Fridays at 11 AM CT, you also get your own personal job search support group that takes up just an hour of your online time.
If you want to find out how to join a Twitter chat such as #hfchat, #careerchat, #genychat or others, Avid Careerist has an excellent guide here. In addition, Twitter has a lot of people tweeting career advice and resources from how to write an effective resume to six ways not to screw up the interview.
As with anything online where you’re meeting and talking to people, you want to present yourself professionally. Take a few moments to get the basics of Twitter etiquette.
7. Do something just for you.
When I was out of work, I added an exercise routine to my mornings that I never had time for before. I cooked healthier meals than my usual haphazard fried eggs and toast for breakfast and kept the guinea pig who shares my home office happy. I thought about cleaning, talked myself out of it and approved my decision.
And every once in awhile, I took a day off job search and did things just for me. It was refreshing and revitalizing, and I returned to “work” the next day feeling more positive than ever.
And while you’re at it…
8. Remind yourself that you are still you.
What’s the biggest resource you have? You! Just because you’re without a job doesn’t mean you’ve lost all the skills, education and knowledge you’ve built up over the years. Nobody can take that away from you, not even yourself and all your doubts.
Use your time to its best advantage, keep on going even when you don’t want to, and you will meet your career goals head on. And best of luck!
(Pic from Lo-clc.)