Professional Development

How To Be Productive When You’re Unemployed

Written by Peter Jones

Being unemployed can be a scary thing. The freedom to sleep in and watch television is great, but the lack of financial security can be panic-inducing. No matter whether you quit or were laid off, here are some strategies for how to make the most of your transition time.

1. Dig Deep

The first key is to understand what went wrong at your last job. Be as honest with yourself as possible. Was it the job, or was it you? Whether you left of your own accord or not, think about why you had to leave without a back-up plan in place, and what you can do to prevent such a situation in the future. This will help you clarify what you want most now, and how to get there and stay put. It will also help you understand your self better—from your unchallenged strengths to your unfortunate habits. Take a little time for stock-taking, soul-searching, and self-improvement.

2. Find Your Passion

What do you want to be when you grow up? What kind of work appeals to you and why? Where do you see yourself in five years? What are you doing on a daily basis? What kind of company do you work for? Finding the answers to the questions of what drives you will only help you find a workplace that will keep you motivated and inspired.

3. Prepare to Apply

Spruce up your resume, check in with your network, jazz up your profiles, and keep up in the latest research and trends in your chosen field. Don’t get caught with a job application on your hands and nothing to show for your time off. Narrow your search platform, select the handful of companies you want to be working for, and start charging forward.

4. Get a Temp Gig

If you need cash, join a temp agency. It’s not a permanent solution, but sometimes it can lead to one. And besides, you’ll make a little extra money and stay in the game. You can also find online freelance work and stay afloat by working remotely.

5. Do Something Else

Use your time to volunteer, or take a course, or learn a new skill. You may never have time like this again in your career. Use it wisely and you’ll be in a much better position when you meet your next opportunity.

6. Be Patient

Finding a job doesn’t happen overnight. Keep track of your progress, however incremental. Celebrate the small victories, the little tasks completed, and the new contacts made. Plan out your daily and weekly goals and chart your progress. Even if it feels like nothing is happening, you’ll still be able to see what you’ve accomplished.

7. Be Good to Yourself

Self care is important. Make sure you’re being healthy—eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising. Give yourself a wellness makeover. You’ll be that much more attractive to prospective employers when the time comes if you do. But also take some time to pamper yourself—indulge your hobbies and interests. Get a bit of joy under your belt. Do something each day that makes you feel good, that flexes your happiness muscle, so to speak.

8. Keep to a Schedule

Perhaps the most important bit of advice is to make sure you don’t fall victim to the amorphous lack of structure in an unemployed day. Make a daily schedule (when you research, job search, exercise, relax) and stick to it. This will help you build better habits—and keep them. And will keep your teeth sharp and workforce ready for when the time comes to rejoin the race.

About the author

Peter Jones