(F)unemployed: 10 Ways To Stay Productive While Searching For A Job

by Wei Li

Being unemployed is a scary situation. You shift from having financial security to not knowing when your next check will arrive. The loss of stability can cause many to sink quickly into an abyss of despair, but don’t lose hope.

Being unemployed may actually be a blessing in disguise. Depending on your course of action following your newfound freedom, you may just emerge from this career slump with a higher chance of success in your future endeavors.

Here’s how you can still be productive while unemployed:

1. Understand what went wrong

Whether you got laid off or you decided to leave on your own accord, there’s one very important question to ask yourself at the end of it: How did it come to this? This is the time to be honest with yourself.

It isn’t about finger pointing, but rather, evaluating the aftermath to understand what went wrong and how to fix it.

2. Getting rid of your bad habits

Every one of us is flawed in one way or another. However, if a particular flaw is the root cause of you not being able to hold down a job, or triggering recurring conflicts with your coworkers, maybe it’s time to do something about it.

Certain things you've been doing may pose a lot of inconvenience to the people around you without you realizing it.

Now that you’ve identified it, start working on bettering yourself for the future.

3. Pursue your passion

As famously quoted by Confucius, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Is there something you’ve always loved doing? Something you've always had boundless energy for? Take it a step further now.

Prior to being unemployed, you may have only considered this as a mere hobby. Here’s your opportunity to convert this passion into a job.

Read up on the industry requirements and job advertisements pertaining to this particular skill, develop a goal-driven timeline and get to work on a portfolio.

You may not be as experienced as the others, but if you’re passionate and dedicated, employers might just take a chance on you.

4. Spruce up your résumé

Many of us are guilty of leaving our résumés to collect dust over the years once we’ve settled comfortably into a job. Now is the time to blow off that layer of dust and resurrect your credentials.

Google some creative examples and get inspired. Break away from the standard Microsoft word designs and try to create a clever logo that makes your résumé stand out.

Most importantly, always have someone proofread it for you.

5. Read up on the latest trends and news

If your old, demanding job caused you to shut out CNN and nightly news outlets, now is the time to get reacquainted with world and brush up on your knowledge.

Head to a coffee shop and scroll through The New York Times to take a break from sending out dozens of cover letters.

6. Plan out your daily goals and chart your progress

Just because you’re not gainfully employed doesn’t mean you have all the time in the world. Things haven't stopped moving, so move along and get started on new goals. You are your very own project manager at this point.

Every strategic effort will increase the chances of you getting your dream job. Set realistic goals and see them through. Perseverance and diligence is key here.

7. Take on small jobs

This is probably not the best time to be choosy. You may need to take on random, quick-fix jobs in order to pay your bills. Nobody’s judging you if you're waiting tables with a college degree; it's more shameful to sit around and do nothing.

This is also an excellent time to jump into the world of freelance; just keep in mind that paychecks may arrive a lot slower.

8. Expand your social network

You are your own brand. Make your presence known by engaging with people online and through networking events. Ostensibly, striking up conversations with like-minded people may just open doors for you.

Just because you don't have a job doesn't mean you should fall out of your social circles.

9. Pay it forward

I’m a firm believer in paying it forward; I guess it’s considerably due to my ardency and faith in humanity.

I’m convinced that one good deed goes a long way. Be a little kinder and make a conscious effort to do the things you’d otherwise dismiss as unimportant in your mad world of backlogs.

Observe minute details, offer a lending hand to those in need and make referrals. It's good to spend your newfound free time chalking up good karma, and in lieu of your kindness, that favor may just be returned one day.

10. Be patient

Good things happen to those who wait. The Chinese idiom, 守株待兔 (shou zhu dai tu) is literally translated as "guarding the tree awaiting a rabbit" and means it's foolish to wait for an unlikely windfall instead of doing hard work to achieve what you want.

While I do believe it’s imperative to remain patient while looking out for jobs or starting a business, I have to reiterate that it’s paramount to make conspicuous efforts to move closer to your goals.

Good luck and hang in there. Good times are coming.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It