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5 Tips To Keep In The Employment Game

It’s been tough out there for a while and it’s not unusual to hear about experienced, qualified professionals whose short term unemployment has turned into a long term financial crisis. If you or someone you love is dealing with long term unemployment, consider these tips for staying in the game until you’re gainfully employed again.

  1. Stay sharp. When you are used to the intense stimulation of challenging work, being out of work can make you feel dull and muddle-headed. Be sure to do at least one activity per day that gets your brain firing away solving problems, being creative, and learning something new. Something as simple as the daily crossword can help keep you sharp, but remember that this wealth of time you have can also give you the time to do projects and classes that you’d put off before because you were too busy. And they don’t have to cost a thing. You Tube is jam packed with thousands of quick, useful tutorials on everything from creating Gantt charts in Excel to physics. And Kahn Academy (http://www.khanacademy.org/) is world renowned for its over educational/tutorial videos.

  2. Stay connected. Beef up those networking skills. Again, you have the time, so use it. Start with a visit to the employment office and get yourself connected with some of the great groups out there committed to getting great people like you back to work. An experienced contractor can also give insight into the most effective and popular local groups. Many groups provide opportunities for training as well as great ways to meet potential employers and other professionals who can give you important leads. There will be days when you’ll want to hide under the blankets, so keep a brisk calendar of lunches, coffees, and walks with friends, family and those great new networking buddies. Putting it on a calendar will help you keep your dates. Job “teams” designed to create regular support for job seekers and are often offshoots of larger networking groups. Members agree to meet and share their success and milestones on a weekly basis

  3. Get out and active. Along with keeping your interpersonal connections fresh and lively, it’s important to just get out in the fresh air and get some exercise. Again, what you have right now in abundance is time, so enjoy it, because it won’t last forever. Have you always wanted to train for a marathon? Ride a century on your bike? Visit every state park in your area? Well, now’s the time. There’s no rule that you have to be utterly miserable during unemployment. Get out there and enjoy your life a little. This also gives a spouse or roommate some vital time alone in your home.

  4. Keep a schedule for job searching. Many people treat the 8 hours they’d spend at the office as “finding work” time. Whatever you do, keep yourself honest by looking for work at least 50% of the time you spent at the office. With social media such a big player in today’s job search, you can get yourself up to speed on all the new technology’s available to you during that time as well. Set achievable goals for numbers of resumes submitted, networking events attended, and connections maintain or gained, etc. Review what you’ve done once a week and tweak your plan when necessary. If nothing else, staying organized and being able to play back all you’ve done in your job search can make conversations with stressed spouses much more comforting for both of you.

  5. Volunteer. The one thing you can absolutely do to keep yourself in the game while you’re not getting paid is to volunteer. There are thousands of non-profit organizations, including those networking groups, that need administrative and creative help. Bring what you have to the table and showcase your strengths. And don’t forget to put that work on your resume to fill the gap between jobs. Being able to answer the interview question, “What have you been doing since you left your last job?” with an exciting tale of your volunteer efforts will impress an employer and show that you take initiative.

These are some great ways to help you stay happy, healthy and on your game during an extended job search. Most of all, remember that YOU HAVE VALUE. The job market right now is a real confidence crusher, which makes it harder and harder to put yourself out there, but remember that you have something unique to offer the right employer and that finding that right employer is the goal. Good luck!