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    Making Unemployment Work for You

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Pens in hairIf you have been laid off, or if you’re just entering the job market and finding it less than hospitable, you know that unemployment is not the most pleasant state of being. So how do you make it tolerable, even positive?

    There are ways, my friend.

    First, think of this as a gift of time. Use it to reexamine and polish your resume until it shines. Even better, make several versions, each geared toward a different job. For example, you might develop a consulting business based on your specific professional acumen. That’s one resume. Do you have training experience? Could you serve as adjunct faculty at a local technical college? Another resume. Does your experience include business writing—proposals, white papers, instructions? Yet another resume.

    You get the idea.

    Another way to use this gift of time is to improve your marketability. Take a class to sharpen your skills, or even consider a course of study in a different career field. This is a time to focus on your future. It has been said that a person will change careers—not jobs, but whole careers—eight times in life (the exact number depends on who you talk to). Still, the idea of changing goals is reasonable: maybe this is the time to change yours.

    Also, remember that even if unemployed, you are still a professional, and your job right now is finding a job. No lounging around the house in a robe, watching daytime television or playing computer games. Likewise, if you were in an office you wouldn’t be doing the laundry, so save that for “after hours.” Maintain your focus on the job hunt. Have an agenda for each day and stick to it, blocking out time for computer job searches, for electronic networking, for cold calls. Get dressed in something other than sweats so you can feel professional as well. Set up casual meetings with others in your field for coffee and a little face-to-face networking.

    Finally, just as you would in any normal workday, take a lunch break. Set your lunch hour and stick to it, getting outside for a walk or maybe going to the gym for some quick exercise. Physical activity keeps your mind sharp as well as your body in shape and helps you maintain a positive attitude.

    And therein lies the most important aspect of using your time while unemployed. Stay positive. Whatever else you do, don’t give up. Keep in mind that this is a temporary situation.

    Hang in there!

    —Joyce Becker Lee

    Photo by Evil Erin