Being unemployed isn’t like summer vacation. When you don't know your next move and panic is setting in, it can lead to stress and anxiety.
Bills need to paid, resumés need to be revised, and you become desperate for the feeling of purpose and productivity in your life. Remember that episode of “Boy Meets World” when Eric Mathews was unemployed? He was sitting on his parents' couch, eating Cocoa Puffs while daydreaming of being “The Good-Looking Guy” detective. Then his dad yells “Eric, put down the Cocoa Puffs and get a job!” You don't want to be Eric.
But we all know getting a job is easier said than done, and it is even easier to fall into an unemployment rut. I made the scary decision to quit my job at a law firm to pursue my career in journalism. The decision was incredibly difficult because I do have a tendency to be Eric-esque and scroll through Tumblr all day while eating (I kid you not) Cocoa Puffs. When I noticed this habit forming, I was determined not to waste precious time, and I found that these tips helped me make the most of my unemployment.
Don’t let the status of your employment (or lack thereof) define you. Research your career hero or the women you want to emulate and track their path. Chances are their path was not easy for them either. Most successful women have 10 times more defeats than triumphs, but their persistence is what got them to the top. Remember their stories, and surround yourself with positive quotes to keep you going.
Don’t get lazy
They don’t call it a “job hunt” for nothing. Make sure your employment toolkit (resumés, networking, social media, career counseling) is fully stocked and keep your eyes open for every opportunity. Follow relevant twitter handles, find companies you want to work for and send them an email expressing your interest. Contact your former professors and see if they know anyone hiring. Make sure your net is cast far and wide because you never know where the next opportunity will come from.
Create a schedule
Set yourself a 9-to-5 schedule and stick to it. Set out time for researching jobs, writing cover letters and anything else you need to do. Make a to-do list the night before with all the tasks you need to tackle for the next day, and don’t forget to schedule an hour for a lunch break. Finding a job is your new full-time job, and you want to make sure you get that promotion.
Hide the distractions
Social media is wonderful way to stay connected, but let’s face it: it’s the worst time suck. We all know those five-minute Facebook breaks turn into 30-minute breaks all too quickly. Keep Me Out is a great way to monitor your social media time, and to let you know you need to keep busy on your job hunt and not your ex-boyfriend's vacation pictures.
This means not spending all day in your PINK sweatpants and hoodie. However, you don't need to iron your pencil skirt and squeeze into heels every day either. Get dressed as if you were going to have a casual dinner with friends, and it will make you feel better about yourself and more productive.
Change the scenery
Being within the four walls of your room (especially if you're living with your parents) is enough to make anyone go insane. Go to a coffee shop or the library to work on your job hunt. That $3 cup of coffee is well worth your sanity, and you might be grabbing your latte next to your future boss.
Spend money wisely
While a coffee here and there might be a good investment, you need to remember if you don't have money coming in, you do not want to spend outside of your means. Being unemployed and in debt is not a great situation, and saving where you can is essential. Use this time to create a daily or weekly budget and be sure to follow it--no exceptions.
Getting up and going for a run or doing yoga is proven to decrease anxiety and stress. It will also increase energy and productivity to help you with the search. Getting the blood pumping will help keep your mood positive and keep you motivated.
While unemployment can be something you want to keep to yourself, it is vital that you let your friends and family know you are on the job hunt. Find the industry you're interested in and saturate the market. Go to events, make calls and invite your parent's friends in that field to dinner. The sooner you let people know you're looking, the sooner they can help you.
Don’t give up
It’s easy to go into panic mode when your means of survival are temporarily gone. But remember, it is temporary. It only takes one opportunity to change your situation, and the opportunity will come. Take this as a new beginning in your life; you’re the author, so write the next chapter.