8 Things You Need To Do When Unemployed

My mom always told me, “Never leave a job without something lined up,” and she’s right of course. But sometimes, life happens, and you’re on your own. You won’t believe how fast a week will go by. Honestly. One day will just fade into another day and suddenly it will be month. Maybe it’s been a few already. Don’t let this happen to you. Be present in your life. Set daily goals. Cook two real meals a day. Read 3 articles a day. Take out the garbage. But above all else…

1. Put down the wine.

I understand. You’re on your way home; you still have some pennies in your pocket. You want to say, “screw you guys, I didn’t like you anyways! Life is mine! I’m going to take today and do whatever I want!” You want to celebrate your freedom.

The problem is, of course, that you’re not free. You have a job. Your job is to find another job. No drinking on company time.

2. Protect your momentum.

Yesterday you got up at 6 am, had a shower, did your hair, made your lunch, and headed out the door to face the day. If you start tomorrow by sleeping in until 10am, you will set yourself up for a series of too many days where you let yourself go. It’s a slippery slope my friend and no one will hire someone with wine stains on their lips.

Your momentum is your baby right now, just like that egg they gave you in school to take care of. You must fight all the urges telling you that it’s “ok, just today” to hang out in your pajamas until 6pm and eat cereal for dinner. It’s not.

3. Make your lunch.

When I was 14, my dad was laid-off. We were bright kids and had family discussions every night around the dinner table. But no one knew about this job loss until 6 months later when he got a new job.

Everyday he got up, got dressed, made his lunch, and went outside into the world to look for a job. Later, he confessed to this scheme. In no way am I advocating you to lie to your family about being unemployed.

My point is that you need to put on your best clothes, make your lunch, and head out the door. Your boss isn’t an asshole anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can slack off. Your boss is yourself, whatever job work you end up doing, and you owe it to yourself to show up on time, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed.

4. Spend time with everyone you know.

It’s not enough just to reach out to people on Twitter and Linkedin. You need to really connect with people. You need to show people that you are really present in their lives. That you’re not just asking them for favours, but that you really, actually, care.

People remember faces. They remember handshakes. They remember commitments.

Call everyone you know and set up an appointment with them. Go for coffee (you are saving your pennies, after all). Go to their work (you have time, after all).

You’re there to connect with your friends’ lives. This meeting isn’t about you. This isn’t an arena for you to complain about your life. Ask an ex-coworker, ex-boss, ex-teacher. Tell them how much they meant to you. Practice your small talk.

5. Help someone.

Maybe you don’t have money, or, maybe you’re stressed out because you have to make rent and you have no idea how. (Listen, you can always sell your stuff on Kijiji. You can do that in the middle of the night).

But you do have more of something than everyone else. Time.

Go to the hospital and read a book to a child. Take an elderly person shopping. Go to your mom’s house and weed the garden.

Why? Because you might stumble across something you never knew you enjoyed. Have you ever seen “In Her Shoes?” (Spoiler Alert) Carmen Diaz would have never known how much fun she could have had being a personal shopper for the elderly if she hadn’t moved in with her grandma.

You have time to help someone in a genuine way, so do it.

6. Get up in the morning; no matter what.

A few years ago, a friend of mine got laid-off from her job. She fell into a deep depression. She drank, she only complained about her unfortunate circumstance to other unemployed people, and she ended up in a really bad place. She was isolated and alone.

She was stuck for a long time. In the end though, her saving grace came as a form of a friend (see #5) who was in desperate need of someone to walk dogs at the emergency veterinary clinic she managed. My friend agreed.

She told me she took the job, not because she had a deep desire to help dogs, but because she literally needed something to wake herself up in the morning.

Once she was up, she walked the dogs, and slowly was able to manage putting ideas together about her future. She (a plus-sized girl) approached the mall and asked if she could work for them, in a kiosk, helping women find clothes that looked good on them.

The mall took one look at her and replied in very, lets say, patronizing way. There wasn’t a position she was trying to apply for; it was just herself and her idea. She proposed that she would do it for free for 6 months, and at the end of that time, if she proved successful, the mall (not her clients) would pay her a small commission.

She ended up being so successful that she not only made thousands of dollars more a year for the mall, but she used the money to start her own marketing company.

7. Invite someone you respect over for dinner.

You can’t have a sink-full of dirty dishes if your mentor is coming over can you? Clean your house. Put on your best clothes. Get to know your guests better.

This is practice for your interview. Don’t talk about yourself; practice asking smart, personal questions. Get to know your parents, talk to an ex-teacher, or phone a long lost cousin.

8. Get out of the house.

So, you’ve gotten up. You’ve dressed yourself. You’ve managed to eat an apple, and wasted some time Instagramming your lunch (#offtowork, #likeaboss).

You’ve read some articles about people who are looking for volunteers. You’ve made some appointments for next week.

Now you need to exit your house. Go for walk. Go to the gym. Go to the store. Go to the post office (write a letter to yourself and send it. Do not send an angry letter.)

Seriously. Take some time and think about what you really want to do. What your ideal job is. What skills you have. Bring that fancy phone of yours if you have to, so you can record your memos. Give yourself a motivational speech.

Out of your house. TC mark

image – Flickr / erix!

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