Following the end of graduate school, I found myself without a job and unable to find one. At first, it was quite nice having that free time in which I could read books undisturbed, and watch whatever show tickled my fancy with no looming deadlines or meetings ahead of me. Despite the freedom I experienced after three weeks of relaxation, I soon realized that this lack of structure was getting to me. Instead of searching for restaurants, shopping for party favors, or deciding on a theme for my 25th birthday celebration, there was nothing left to plan. At 25, I returned home to live with my parents and found myself in a job search. I was fortunate enough to have saved a substantial amount of money from working during graduate school, so I had the financial security to embark on my journey without worrying about income. But eventually, I knew it would be necessary for me to find a way to generate revenue.

Experiencing unemployment can be a valuable learning experience, providing us with the space to reflect on ourselves and others. With little distraction and plenty of time for introspection, it is an ideal opportunity to uncover our true selves. Unfortunately, some may view the unemployed as lazy or unmotivated. However, there are still many with understanding and compassion for those enduring this obstacle. By witnessing how others perceive those without employment we can better understand our position in society.

Although it may be hard to believe, unemployment can happen to anyone. In 2009, George W. Bush became unemployed after leaving the White House, and as he relinquished his eight-year-long rights and privileges of being a president, who knows what feelings stirred inside him?

Although being jobless can be intimidating, having a break from an occupation that requires so much of our time and energy should be celebrated if we take on the obstacle with the right attitude.

What to Do While Unemployed

Calm Down and Have Some Perspective

While unemployment can be disheartening, take the opportunity to look inward. Start by generating a list of what you are grateful for shelter, transportation, well-being, dependable friends and family members (and even pets!). Gaining perspective is crucial; remember that being unemployed won’t last forever no matter how long it may feel at times. Wintertime isn’t eternal – every season changes eventually!

Take Care of Your Mental Health

While grappling with unemployment, don’t ignore your mental well-being. Heed the signals of your body and mind; it’s not uncommon to feel down while waiting for a job interview. Pay close attention to how you’re feeling emotionally – taking care of yourself is as important (if not more) than getting that job. Are you just feeling a bit down in the dumps or have you completely lost all hope? No matter how long this gloomy mood has been lingering, make sure to connect with someone and even receive professional assistance if it is within your means. Additionally, keep in mind that life keeps on moving no matter where you are employment-wise. As your friends get jobs, take luxurious trips, buy new cars and commemorate achievements, it can be difficult to not feel discouraged or excluded. To spare yourself from such feelings of despondency and loneliness, taking care of your mental health is essential; if necessary even going as far as cutting ties with social media so that you may focus on improving yourself and prioritizing your needs.

Have a Support System

Remember, no one is meant to go through life alone. Make sure you are surrounded by individuals that truly care about your well-being and successes – whether they come from your family or close friends. You don’t have to face this job search alone; there is likely someone in your life who will hold you accountable and make sure that you are constantly on the hunt for jobs, planning meetings, following up with potential employers, and providing emotional support when needed. Reach out for help if it’s offered – it could be just the assistance that helps put you back into the workforce.

Plan, Plan, and Then Plan Some More

Make the most of each day by having a well-defined plan. Looking for employment can be quite time-consuming, so use notebooks as planners and journals to keep yourself organized. Have an agenda for every week that includes which employers you want to reach out to, those who you come across during your search, brief recapitulations of any meetings held, and what steps need to be taken next to stay on track throughout this critical journey. Are notebooks not your thing? Make a comprehensive Excel spreadsheet instead and visit it regularly. Change up the plan as you go along, and jot down journal entries at each day’s end. Having a strategy to drive your search helps keep you on track, but is also something that potential employers view favorably during interviews – more than if there was no premeditated thought or organization regarding your job hunt process.

Donate Your Time

By giving back, you can gain a sense of personal gratification. Identify an organization and its cause that resonates with your values and choose to contribute however much time you have available — be it for a couple of hours or more regularly. Volunteering while unemployed provides a powerful sense of purpose and structure, with the potential to tame feelings of powerlessness. With an engaging task awaiting each week, it can offer a new destination that brings stability and direction in life. I propose volunteering not because it will directly benefit you, but rather to aid the organization. Put in your best effort without expecting a payoff and be happily surprised by what returns come your way. Taking on a volunteer position not only gives you structure and purpose but also provides something to showcase your abilities when applying for new jobs. During my period of unemployment, I volunteered at an elementary school library near my parents’ home – this experience has proved invaluable in talking about gaps in employment history during job interviews! Although I simply shelved books, checked out books, and assisted with the spring book fair preparation, it was highly rewarding to see the tiny children come in each day. Not only that but I also gained so much encouragement from admiring the creative classroom arrangements!

Go Start!

The most rewarding experiences often come when we construct our doors and paths, rather than wait for someone else to present us with opportunities they have already established. During times of unemployment, don’t be discouraged. Instead, take the chance to become an entrepreneur and build something that could not only make you prosperous in the short term but could also employ others in time! Don’t let fear stop you from exploring ideas; if your venture doesn’t work out as planned, at least it’s a learning experience. Who knows? The right opportunity may just have been waiting around the corner all along.

Are you currently unemployed? Then check out Levo’s specially curated job board for the perfect opportunity!

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