Losing a job and being unemployed can come as a shock. Whether you were terminated, laid-off, or you chose to leave, that space in between jobs can be uncomfortable and worrisome. Sometimes that employment gap only lasts a few weeks, but for many people it drags on for months or years.
No matter how long you are out of a job, it is important to maintain a sense of identity and purpose. It is also important to be able to explain your situation to potential future employers. If you want to rejoin the workforce, your time out of a job should be spent preparing yourself for work. Here are five practical ways you can make the most out of your employment gap.
- Search and apply for jobs daily
The conventional advice is to use the time you would be at work to apply for jobs. If you want to work forty hours a week, spend forty hours a week working towards that goal. While this can sound daunting, break it up into different tasks. Work on your resume, do research, visit companies, attend career fairs and pick up job applications.
- Seek additional training and experience
If you find yourself in a career rut, an employment gap can be a good time to reassess your goals. Maybe this is your opportunity to go back to school or get certified in a field you are interested in. This is also a great time to volunteer some of your time so you can gain valuable experience. Education and volunteering will help you maintain a sense of identity and purpose in addition to adding to your employment qualifications.
- Create a routine
The days can be long when they are not structured around a work schedule. Keep a regular sleeping and eating routine. Write down the next day’s agenda before going to bed each night so you will wake up with a purpose. It may take some self-discipline, but it will help you stay focused.
- Assess your finances
One of the more painful realities of unemployment is a lack of income. Take a hard look at what resources you have and cut spending where you can. See if you qualify for unemployment or other public assistance. Many state agencies offer not only financial aid but free advice to help you manage your resources during hard times.
- Catch up on life
Remember that list of household projects you keep putting off? How about that friend or relative you keep meaning to have lunch with? By doing things that are important, even if they don’t pertain to work, you will maintain your sense of purpose. And employers like hiring purpose-driven workers.
Being unemployed is not easy, but look at this time as an opportunity to better yourself so you can land on your feet.