Unemployment is something most people rarely plan for. Besides building a healthy bank account, and maintaining an active network of peers, there is often little you can do to prepare for unexpected unemployment and its aftermath.
Getting that pink slip and being shown to the door is like getting a punch in the gut. It takes your breath away, and makes your head spin. If you’re fortunate, it may be the best thing to happen in your professional life. For the less fortunate, it’s like being cast adrift alone at night in the ocean.
Many unemployed people experience the five classic stages of loss and grieving: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. How do you pick yourself up and face tomorrow?
Immediate steps include dusting off your resume, and taking a good look at where you want to go next. If you’re battling with your self-confidence and can’t get a grip, this may feel like climbing the Matterhorn in a blizzard. You may vacillate between lethargy and urgency.
To maintain a healthy balance, create a daily schedule with achievable goals. One goal may be getting out of bed and dressing for the day. Important, easily accomplished and ticked off your list. A few other goals:
- Make 2 new contacts through LinkedIn® each day
- Find 5 companies you’d like to work for, and thoroughly research each one.
- Develop multiple versions of your resume to fit the kinds of job you’re targeting.
Next, start focusing on you. Unemployment impacts people physically, mentally and spiritually. You need to be at the top of your game before, during and after an interview. How do you get there?
5 Things That Will Make a Substantial Impact on Your Well-being
- Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to get outside of yourself, and it brings several benefits. Whether you’re working in your local food pantry, or helping seniors file their taxes, you are getting out and meeting people. You are diversifying your social circle. You are working. Feeling productive and useful will alleviate symptoms of depression and isolation.
- Shape up. If you already have a fitness plan, now is not the time to take a break. Keep at it. You may have to change your venue, but that’s all to the good. If you don’t have a fitness plan, take this opportunity to start. Walking outside requires no equipment or membership dues. Listen to the sounds around you. Greet your neighbors. Breathe deeply. Be kind to yourself.
- Exercise your mind. Brush up on your skills. Take a class. Participate in a MOOC (massive open online course), or take a course at your local community college. Was there a study group you couldn’t attend because of your schedule? Try it now. Keep learning, and broaden your horizon. Stay sharp. It will make a world of difference when you’re interviewing for your next job.
- Network. If you were a networker, now is the time to advertise your availability. Step up your activity, and look for new events to attend. While you may mention you’re looking for work, stay alert for opportunities to help someone else. Be a mentor, or find a mentor. If you neglected networking before, you’re behind the curve. Look for networking events in your industry, including meetups. Make a list of everyone you know, and start connecting. Your network is not only the people in your career field; it’s also the people you meet when you’re volunteering, exercising, and taking a class.
- Stay up-to-date in your industry. For some, it might be, Get up-to-date! Read the latest in your industry’s literature. Share news and articles. Read and comment in LinkedIn groups and other industry-specific forums. Start a professional blog where you can write about your industry, share tricks of the trade, and speculate about the future. If you’re in IT, take a look at GitHub and Stack Overflow. Find a project and contribute to it. Start your own project. Techies and non-techies alike can explore Quora, Stack Exchange, and Reddit. These are question and answer, and newssharing forums that cover just about any industry.
These activities are not “busy work”. When you’re unemployed, you don’t have time for busy work. Finding a new job is a full-time job in itself. But, when an interviewer asks what you’ve been doing while unemployed, you’ll be able to show how you’ve helped other people, learned new skills, explored new areas of your industry, shared your insights with peers, and came out a better person.
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~Catherine Buck Morgan
Corporate Media Specialist, DPP