We’ve all gone through it or may come across it in the future. For some of us, it shakes the very foundation of our being and leaves us questioning our true identity. For others, it’s a reality check that propels them into new adventures. Regardless of how it affects you, it just straight up sucks.
It was a series of company layoffs that resulted in me finding myself applying for unemployment benefits one Friday afternoon. It happened just three weeks before completing my Graphic Design program, so within a month I went from going to school full-time and working full-time… to having no work and no more school. Oh, and I was turning 30th in a few days, so I was officially thirty, flirty and unemployed.
Immediately after getting the call, I told myself that this is not the time to be down on myself. No fears. No doubts. Nothing but positive energy and optimism. Below are some tips and resources that have kept me on that path and moving forward with finding my new occupation.
Friends and Family
You’ve been busting your ass off working 10+ hours a day. I’m guessing that didn’t leave you with much time to hang out with friends and family? Take advantage of this time to go visit Mom and Dad or to meet up with your friends that you haven’t made time to see. You may come to find out that they’ve experienced this before and can offer some support. At the very least, they can help you take your mind off of it and keep your spirits up.
Go talk to strangers! Seriously. It’s important to get out of the house and mingle with people from various backgrounds. Let’s not call it networking right now because your first priority is to get into a positive mindset and to practice your small-talk abilities.
Meetup and Eventbrite are two apps that provide a boatload of free events. With Meetup, you join groups where group leaders organize events to gather like-minded folks. There’s a group for just about any interest (sports, arts, culture, professional, etc.) and you’re not limited as to how many you can join.
As for Eventbrite, you can filter through the list of events to find the free ones in your area. If the event requires a ticket, Eventbrite has you covered since they also operate as a ticketing system so all you need to do is have the app installed on your phone to access your tickets.
While I was working, I didn’t do much to exercise. I had a gym membership, but never made the time to go, #facepalm. A few weeks into being laid off, I knew I needed to do something to keep my endorphins up and to pass the time, but before running back to my old gym, I made it a point to give some thought as to the type of workouts I wanted. I wanted to make sure it was something exciting, challenging and something different everyday.
This is when Crossfit came into my life. It provided me with something exciting and challenging to do, and no two workouts were the same. To this day, I still get butterflies every time I walk into the gym because I don’t know what the coach has in mind for the class. It’s never a dull moment.
Crossfit is something that is working for me, but I understand we all have different preferences and budget constraints. For you, it may be yoga, pilates, running, hiking, etc. There’s something out there for everyone that can be within budget, so give yourself some time to figure it out and research affordable options.
There’s something about volunteering that just feeds the soul. I highly recommend it for everyone whether you’re unemployed or not. What I love about volunteering is that it can give you the opportunity to test out new interests or to work on something you may not otherwise turn into a profession.
For example, I’ve never had an interest in being a teacher (much respect to our educators though), but I’ve always wanted to inspire kids to keep on learning and to push them to become the best version of themselves. I’ve come to find that volunteer tutoring is what works for me. I can work one-on-one with kids to help them with their homework and to be available for any questions.
Here in San Diego, there’s an organization called HandsOn San Diego which is a one-stop resource for volunteer opportunities in the city. On the site, you can find events during the week or on the weekends. There are similar organizations in every city, so do a quick online search by typing in “Volunteer opportunities in (Your City)” or “Volunteer (Your City)” in the browser. Other places you can go to is your nearby church or public library.
Job Search Resources:
The following sites are very useful for tips on your job hunt. They cover just about every topic from conducting your job search to salary negotiations.
The Muse is an advanced career advice website. Aside from informative articles and job listings, the website can help you locate a job coach who can help you with your resume or interviewing skills. There’s an article for just about any question you may have about your job search.
What started off as a blog about an HR manager’s experience at a company has blossomed into a website full of useful information. This site is not only useful for people in need of a job, but everyone else who’s employed. There are informative posts, Q&A pieces and even some crazy/funny stories about horrible bosses and coworkers that make for a good laugh.
Job Hunting Tips:
Have Your Resume and Cover Letter Reviewed
My tip for resume reviews is this: find friends or professionals that are within your desired industry and ask them to review your resume. While your friend who’s in retail may have good intentions, he may not be providing you with the most solid feedback to improve your resume for that Project Management job you’re eyeing. You can still enlist his help to check grammar and overall layout, but for tips on how to maximize your chances of getting an interview, look towards people within that industry.
If you don’t find someone within your circle, take advantage of events where you can network. Once you connect with someone, be sure to follow up with an invitation for coffee and eventually request a brief moment to have them review your resume. It may seem awkward at first, but once you try it out a few times it gets easier.
Keep Your Skills Sharp
There’s always room for growth. Take advantage of this time to read books on leadership and business development as well as any books related to your industry. Sign up for any free classes to help keep your skills sharp. If your public speaking skills are a bit rusty, find a Meetup group that can help or join your local Toastmasters. You shouldn’t be spending 40 hours a week submitting resumes and applications; instead, take a portion of that time to beef up your skills, pickup a new one or take on a new hobby.
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is to take time to reflect on your last job. What feedback did you get during your last performance review? What could have made you stand out even more as an excellent employee? If you can identify a few items, direct your energy towards improving them.
Hire a Job Coach
There may come a time when you need to enlist the help of a professional. There’s nothing wrong with that. Job Coaches are good at helping you with improving your resume, LinkedIn profile, interviewing and negotiating skills. They’ve found ways to hack the hiring process that can work in your favor, so they’ll work with your experience and skills to enhance your profile and make you more attractive to employers. Be sure to screen the coach to ensure you get exactly what you need. I understand that hiring a job coach requires money, but view it as an investment to your future career.
Periods of unemployment do not last forever, so stay positive, stay optimistic and stay productive as best you can. Don’t beat yourself up if you spent the whole day binge watching Stranger Things. Tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to get out there and make things happen.