Mentally & Financially Surviving Unemployment

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Being laid off from work is like being dumped. Only worse. Not only do you emotionally feel rejected, alone, and abandoned; but you also have to deal with losing your entire means of financial support. Below are some tips to deal with the emotional and monetary woes that go along with being unemployed.

1. Develop a routine

Keep a weekly routine just as though you’re still working. Wake up in the morning (no sleeping past noon), eat some breakfast, search and apply for jobs, fix lunch, work out, make dinner then relax. Yes, there will be gaps in there and you need to be self-disciplined to use them wisely. In general, stick to a normal day-time schedule. Go to bed at a normal time and get up at a normal time.

Sure, you can stay in your pj’s for a while but the more you keep a real-world schedule the easier it’ll be to keep a healthy mentality. The easier it will also be to re-adjust to a work schedule when you find another job.

2. Set a goal

Set a goal in something else in your life that you enjoy doing. Now is a good time to spend more time with those hobbies that are often ignored. The idea is to keep yourself busy but still focused on something productive.

One example is to set a workout goal. Have you always wanted to run a 5k but didn’t feel prepared? Simply, budget out $25 and sign up for one. Schedule this training into your day and stick with it. Since being unemployed can cause you to feel down, meeting this goal will provide a nice boost to your self esteem.

3. Keep applying

Keep applying for jobs! Always always always be applying for jobs. Have one resume and cover letter template that you can quickly modify to apply for specific jobs. Applying is always free and won’t take you more than 10 minutes per position. You could have the-best-resume-ever-written but if you never send it out, you’re not going anywhere. Try applying to at least one job a day.

Be patient! Employers will contact you anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after you applied. Take note of the job posting date. Being one of the first to apply will definitely increase your chances of having your resume seen.

4. Learn

Spend some time during the week to learn more in your field. Perhaps your knowledge is slightly outdated due to previous work limitations. Maybe you have always wanted to learn a new technology in your field but didn’t have the time.

Read up on your industry to find out what you need to know to be a marketable candidate. You might want to take a class, earn a certification or just sit in on some lectures. Meetup.com is a great reference for learning and networking with others in your field.

5. Restructure your budget

If you’re going to be on U.S. Federal Unemployment, chances are your income will be greatly decreased from what you are used to. You will need to restructure your budget to account for this. It is incredibly difficult to balance having lots of free time but little money to spend. Stay aware of your budget and spending. Be sure to factor in job hunting expenses as well (specifically travel).

You will have to sacrifice. This will suck. You will have to eat out less. You will have to tell your friends that you can’t go out this weekend. Unemployment will cover all your bills but not much else. This means that your entertainment budget especially will take a big hit. While it’s enticing to go out on a weeknight, you really need some discipline here. This is also why keeping a normal-routine is important.

6. Save your receipts

Job hunting expenses are tax deductible, so save all your receipts!

7. Change It up

If you’re not getting any call backs after applying to jobs you know you qualify for, try changing your resume. Even something as simple as a layout re-design can make you stand-out more. If you’re not hearing anything after interviews, change up your prepared answers and find different ways to describe your past work history.

While it is easy to blame the economy, it really is up to you to market yourself better than your competition.

Have your own suggestions of how to survive being out of work? Leave them below!


5 Comments

  1. lunchingdauphin says:

    One of my job-hunting friends carries a jump drive around with her resume/contact info. so she has it available should the random employment prospect come up while she’s out and about. Also- and I know this can add up cost-wise, but meeting up for coffee or tea with old work friend or supervisors you were cool with can help. It’s more personal than an email, and you can feel them out to see if they have any prospects- or have a friend needing hired help themselves. I guess in a nutshell it’s all networking. But I was able to find a few freelance jobs this way doing basic web/desktop projects because they just didn’t have the time. Sometimes it was for the equivalent of minimum wage I admit, but it was so easy, and every little bit helps. A lot of small business owners look for this kind of thing too. Hope it helps a little.

    • leslie says:

      I want to add along with the flash drive tip, I always emailed myself my latest copy of my resume, cover letter & references so I could always have access to them via Gmail as well.

      Thanks for the great networking tip! Not only is it great to be earning a temporary income while job hunting, but that also keeps you feeling productive.

  2. Serendipity says:

    I’m not unemployed but I am thinking about lookin for other opportunites to help for when I get my degree finished. I think I will look into the idea about examining my resume to see if I need to edit anything and also about keeping resumes on hand, just in case something pops up. Great article and I really hope you find something soon hun. :)

    Serendipity

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