Make Unemployment Work for You: 14 Dos and Don'ts

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 16, 2012

Today's high unemployment rates mean that more people than ever are experiencing joblessness, and for longer periods of time.

While being without a job is not ideal, you can use the time for self-discovery, to open doors, to make yourself more marketable, and to expand your experiences.

This article shows you how to make the most of unemployment, by illustrating 7 dos and 7 don'ts.

Do focus on the present and live in the "now"

Think about what you can do today to improve your job situation, whether it's buffing up your resume, reaching out to a contact, or doing research on companies you think you would like to work for.

Putting an emphasis on daily positive steps and actions will help you avoid the doldrums that often go hand in hand with unemployment.

Don't focus on the past, or worry about your future

Dwelling on negative past situations, blaming unemployment on your mistakes or on those of others, or spending most of your time imagining worst-case scenarios if you remain unemployed is counterproductive, and will not allow you to maintain the positive attitude necessary to weather the storm.


Do explore your passions

Take the time to do things you would love to do more of if you didn't have to work.

Focus on the things you like to do, take up a new hobby that has always intrigued you, travel, or spend more time with family and friends.

Exploring the things you don't typically have time for may open up new worlds and opportunities, and you never know where they may lead.

Don't feel guilty for enjoying yourself while you're out of work

There are only so many hours of the day you can devote to job hunting. Make the most of the other hours. You never know when you'll have the time again!


Do master the Internet

Build an online persona that will introduce you to potential employers.

Learn how to use LinkedIn and other business networking sites, build your own personal website that highlights your skills and accomplishments, or post an online resume.

Don't fritter your days away on social networking sites...

...unless you're using them to network and job search

It's okay to stop by, say "hi," and check out the latest news from friends, but if you're creeping social networking sites more than an hour a day, it's too much!

Give yourself a time limit, and stick to it.

 

Do spend money making yourself more marketable

Get an advanced degree in your field, earn a certification, or take a class or two at your local community college.

There are a variety of choices for all budgets and time commitments, from full-time degree programs to online classes you can take from home.

Don't spend your money on instant gratification items

Avoid shopping sprees, days at the spa, or outrageous vacations you really can't afford.

Sure, those Christian Louboutin shoes might make you feel better for a second, but regret is sure to follow when you realize that, cute as they are, they won't pay the bills.

Do make quality connections

Volunteer a couple of times a week at a local organization, attend industry expos and conferences, and join networking or "mastermind" groups.

When you hang out with the right people, more opportunities present themselves.

Don't hang out at the bar, sharing tales of woe with other unhappy folks

Yes, it's healthy to vent now and then, but spending the majority of your time with people who bring you down instead of lift you up will get you absolutely nowhere.

Kvetching and complaining can be addicting, especially when you've got willing ears, but like all addictions just isn't good for you.

Do set up alternative income streams

Start consulting, or hang out a shingle as a freelance writer. Start marketing the all-natural soap you make, or ask the local grocery stores to sell your salsa.

Being active in this way will make you feel good about yourself, will help you feel in control of your situation, and, who knows, you may inadvertently stumble upon your fortune!

Don't watch your savings dwindle while you do nothing about it

At the very least, take up a part-time job.

Earning even a little money will improve your financial situation, and you may discover a world you enjoy, meet people who can help you land your next position, and learn skills that will make you more marketable.

 

Do consider the possibility of escape

If unemployment drags on for an extended period of time and you're feeling stuck, consider what some experts are calling "mini-retirement."

Arrange to go somewhere for four to six months, and choose to do something completely different. You'll gain a new experience, fresh perspective, will meet new people, and will return to your job search refreshed.

In some cases, your "mini-retirement" may also open the doors to a new gig.

Don't hide at home

Those who experience extended unemployment may get to the point where they are feeling down in the dumps, don't want to see people or explain their situation, and find it easier to stay behind closed doors.

Becoming a hermit will only extend your joblessness. If you're feeling this way be sure to tell someone about your feelings, such as a trusted family doctor or counselor, so you can get the right help.

Down time can pay off, if you use it wisely

Unemployment isn't the end of the world, nor does it need to halt the momentum of your career.

With the correct approach, you can use the time to refresh and renew, improve your skills, increase marketability, and position yourself to get the job of your dreams.

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