Tips for Job Searching When You are Unemployed

If you’ve ever been unemployed for any length of time, you know how difficult it can be to keep to a routine or perform necessary tasks without the threat of an angry boss looming over your shoulders.  Sure, you have plenty of time for personal development, networking, and sharpening your professional skills, but then there’s also the latest episode of “The Dr. MacDoogan Show” to distract you.

Don’t get us wrong, we feel your pain.  Heck, after just a three day weekend it seems like a herculean effort just to get out of our PJ bottoms and into work slacks, much less after any break longer than 72 hours.  Unless you feel like taking up residence in the garden apartment (read basement) of your parent’s home for the remainder of your adult years, getting started on the job search and landing a new gig ASAP are essential to your bank account and sanity.  With that in mind, here are a few pieces of sage wisdom designed to help put a get in your giddy-up and kickstart your job searching when you are unemployed.  

Schedule Your Time

What do successful individuals from military generals to venture finance professionals all have in common?  They schedule their time.  When unemployed, it’s often easy to think that you have all the time in the world to polish up that resume, search for open jobs and submit an application or two, while fitting in your newly found obsession with daytime television.  In reality, however, by the time you’ve crawled out of bed, brushed your teeth, downed a cup or two of coffee and indulged in an episode of the “Young and Impossibly Manicured” your day is half over.  Cram in your laundry, picking up the house and minding the incessantly barking dog, and it’s time to go to bed and wash, rinse and repeat all over again.

Creating a schedule for both your job search activities and your daily life helps unemployed candidates keep a handle on how they spend their free time.  This can help job-seekers ensure they’re spending sufficient time every day on career making activities.  In addition, setting a schedule can help make the transition back to the real world of employment easier once you’ve landed that position.

Start out by making a list of daily must-dos such as job searching, networking and following up on opportunities.  Make another list of important, but not mandatory items such as household chores or social engagements that can be put off or that have time and date flexibility.  Finally make a list of purely optional, fun or recreational items that help keep you sane.  Assign each of the tasks an estimated time.  The important tasks should get reserved time slots daily, with the remaining openings filled in with items from the other two lists.

Once you have a schedule, stick to it.  A structure can be hard at first, but, over time, can become freeing as you learn just how much of your day or week was wasted on spinning your wheels.  Last but not least, be sure to schedule exercise time on a regular basis.  Physical activity is important for physical and mental health and is especially useful for getting you out of the house and active when unemployed.

Volunteer or Become an Intern

Most unemployed individuals spend their time looking for full time, paid positions.  While your budget will certainly approve of this approach, if you’re struggling to find a winning role, a volunteer position or internship may be the ticket to job-hunting success.

Volunteering for local organizations or charities in need helps get you out of the house and giving back to the community.  Many hospitals, schools, nursing homes and government buildings are often understaffed and in need of qualified and caring individuals to perform essential job functions.  Both non and for-profit companies also often have openings for unpaid internships.  With both of these opportunities, you may be able to keep your essential job skills sharp.  In addition, volunteer and intern roles introduce you to a host of different people at all levels of a community or organization.  These interactions can lead to beneficial social or professional opportunities and could even turn into an offer of employment down the line.

Network and Then Network Some More

Most candidates recognize the effectiveness of networking in order to attain upward mobility in their given field.  What may be less obvious, however, is that networking with others in your profession can also help when you’re looking to land a job outright.  

Start out by reviewing your personal and professional contacts.  After a few emails and phone calls, you will most likely have a full roster of dinners, cocktails or casual conversations.  During these events, be sure to mention that you’re on the hunt for a new position and are interested in knowing what may be open with the individual’s company.  You may also do a little internet sleuthing for scheduled networking events offered by companies or services in your career field.  

It’s important to network wisely to avoid leaving the wrong impression.  If you haven’t spoken to a contact in a number of years, hearing from you out of the blue when you’re in need of a job can leave a bad impression in addition to most likely not being beneficial.  Sending follow up emails and reaching out after your networking event with a personal phone call can leave a good impression in addition to keeping your need of a job fresh in the person’s mind.

Don’t Over Criticize or Nitpick

When you’re unemployed, searching for a job can often seem like an emotional roller coaster.  Combine that fact with the inevitable extra time on your hands and you can be left with a potential ego killing cocktail of self-doubt and criticism.  Likewise, the failure to land a job right away can often lead to nitpicking of perfectly good resumes and cover letters often with counterproductive results.

If you’re unemployed it’s important to work to stay positive about your job prospects.  Speaking with a recruiter or trusted friend or previous work colleague can often provide much-needed advice in addition to boosting that self-confidence.  Having a positive outlook will benefit you both in the job search and when you inevitably land that interview or call back and are in the running for a job offer.

Our last and final piece of advice for those who are unemployed but seeking a job is to avoid being stagnant in your life and job search.  Keep your eyes open for opportunities and constantly seek out contacts and job openings in a variety of forms.  Building on the momentum of the previous day’s job search, networking event or other activity will see you landing a job all the more quickly while helping keep your spirits high in the process.  

Article Updated from the Original on November 2, 2017