Regardless if you’re a recent graduate looking to begin a new career or a seasoned professional who was terminated by your employer, being unemployed can be a devastating experience. And for most people unemployed 6 months or longer, hopelessness and even depression can set in. But here’s the thing, “Your present circumstances does not determine your future.”
First off, know that you’re not alone. Did you know the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported from January 2011 through December 2013, 4.3 million workers were displaced from jobs they held for at least 3 years? Secondly, many professionals and celebrities have been fired from a job and bounced back bigger and better than before. Cherea Robinson, named one of the top 10 Women to watch by the United Nations and Forbes, was fired twice before starting Rare Customs, a company that creates products, brands, and strategies that are shaping the future of travel to Africa. Actress Kerry Washington found groundbreaking success with the ABC hit show Scandal after being fired. During an interview with the Hollywood Reporter’s Emmy Roundtable, she revealed, “Before Scandal, the only other two pilots I’d ever done were shows that got picked up, but I got fired.”
So, if you’re among the millions of people unemployed, here’s a simple to do list.
Reinvent yourself with an entrepreneurial mindset – Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your self worth is diminished because you’re unemployed. Even if you’re looking forward to working for a new company, focus on being a doer, a planner, or a creator of something that may not have been possible working for someone else. Start by asking yourself what are my 10 favorite skills, in order of priority and how can I continue to apply them? Then think, how can I monetize these skills even if it’s temporary? Do you think you have what it takes to turn something you love into a viable company?
Develop a routine – Designate a day of the week like “Follow-up Friday” to connect with someone online or in person. Maybe its lunch/coffee or informational interview with an old colleague or key influencer you met online via social media. Also remember to always send a thank you note after an interview. The extra step is incredibly important and can set you apart from other candidates. According to CareerBuilder, two thirds of workers reported that they don’t follow up with the employer after submitting their résumé for consideration.
Sitting at home day after day looking for a job is frustrating and exhausting. Don’t feel guilty about leaving the house for some fresh air. Consider weekly visits to Starbucks, Panera Bread or Barnes & Nobles to read books and magazines and use their free Internet service.
Build or enhance your online platform – Work smarter at your job search. Beyond spending all day searching online for job opportunities, start a blog, you tube channel or podcast about a passion or expertise. Having an online platform, is a great way to market yourself to potential employers. And it shows great initiative, gives you the chance to establish yourself as an expert in your field and it can set you apart from other candidates.
Also, make sure your online platform or resume is mobile friendly. Be prepared to showcase your portfolio, resume or pitch for a new business anytime, anywhere. And employers are using their mobile devices to look for candidates as well. If you already have a blog, spruce it up. Ask yourself, how can I take my online platform to the next level?
Make connections and build meaningful relationships – Use Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and even Instagram wisely by following key influencers in the industry and decision makers at major companies. Find out what they’re talking about and join the conversation. Subscribe to their blogs and provide insights around hot topics. Share relevant articles with key players and engage them in conversation. You’d be surprised at how many companies reach out to individuals they’ve found online via blogs, twitter chats or online forums.
Attend local networking events in your area. Check your local library, meetup.com or join an online network such as the Levo league for professional events near you. Don’t forget to tap into your personal network of friends, family and professional contacts. Let them know you’re looking for a job, and ask for their help in your job search.
Volunteer – The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that promotes volunteerism, tracked more than 70,000 jobless people between 2002 and 2012 and found that those who volunteered had a 27% better chance of finding a job than those who didn’t. According to Forbes, one reason, according to the authors of the study “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment”: acquiring skills or knowledge as a volunteer and then putting them to use may “demonstrate higher levels of capacity, potentially making the volunteer more attractive to and productive for employers.”
Learn a new skill – Learning a new skill increases your confidence. This can include learning to set up a spreadsheet, building a website, crafting your perfect pitch, using unfamiliar technology, etc. Take advantage of the many free online resources, including tutorials, e-books, and how-to you tube videos. Look for free or affordable adult education classes in your area. Alternatively, if you already possess the necessary skills, volunteer your skills to help others so that your skill set remains fresh and marketable.
The key takeaway here is don’t wait for things to happen, get out and make them happen. Sure, it sounds cliché but it’s very true. Be prepared to tell potential employers at least 3 ways you used your downtime to create something new, learn a new skill or even help others.