unemploymentWhat to do when you suddenly find yourself unemployed? Over the years, we’ve helped a bunch of folks through the challenge of unemployment. Those who have been the most successful have paid attention to a few factors:

1. Maintaining a Routine. One of the easiest ways to get in to trouble when you suddenly find yourself unemployed is to take advantage of the fact that there’s no longer the structure of work to get you up in the morning and to give you an opportunity to interact with other people. “Sleeping in” seems like a reward, but it’s really a trap for many people. This is an especially good time to pay attention to getting up and getting bright light and social activity in the morning. While you’re at it, make sure you find the time when you can do regular physical activity. Even if you haven’t been doing so before, now is a very important time to start walking, bicycling, even going to the gym on a regular basis. Feeling physically strong will definitely help you stay mentally strong through this challenging period.

2. Regular part time focus on job seeking. Devote three to four hours a day to looking for work or doing informational interviews. Applying for jobs online is in some ways easier than it used to be, but unfortunately, this means that the competition is also much greater. You’ll want to fill in some of that three to four hours a day of job hunting with informational interviews. The hard part is letting people know that you’re looking for work. Don’t be shy about it. Pretty much everybody has been there. They don’t think of this as a failure on your part, the way you might.

3. Challenge yourself mentally. You will notice that I suggested only three to four hours of job hunting. Honestly, we’ve never seen anyone who’s able to do much more than that. And so it’s silly to set yourself up for failure by saying “I’m going to treat looking for work as a full-time job.” However, this is a time when it’s particularly important to make sure that you are getting challenged and stimulated mentally. One of the best ways that we know of to do this is to figure out what additional skills in your field would be useful. These days, you can take a course in practically anything online. Setting up a couple of courses or perhaps even beginning a certification program will definitely help your job search in more ways than one. First, employers like to know that people are wanting to improve themselves. Second, and probably more important, it will help you to feel confident in your abilities. With the economy the way it is, it is not uncommon for people to be unemployed for months. After a couple of months unemployed almost all of us naturally begin to wonder whether we are still able to do the things that we used to.  If you have been taking classes, however, you will know that you are up to the mental challenge of a job, and that confidence will help you get that job.

4. Get help. There are a number of critical tasks that will play a large role in whether or not you are successful getting that next job. Having a resume that works is essential. Honestly, we have never worked with anyone who did as good a job of this as a good professional resume writer . This may cost you a few hundred dollars, but it is not that expensive if you think about the cost of being unemployed for an extra couple of weeks or even a month. In addition, if your former employer gave you access to an outplacement service, you should definitely go in and take advantage of it. One of the most difficult things about being unemployed is that most of us are by nature not accustomed to selling ourselves to others. For that reason, taking advantage of any outside help will be useful. If you don’t have access to such a service, see if you can’t find a buddy or friend who is also looking for work, and perhaps the two of you can support each other in this process. Having someone else telling you the things to say about your skills can be helpful.

5. Don’t let yourself get depressed. Depression or disillusionment and discouragement must be taken care of during a period of unemployment. You may be thinking you don’t have as much money as you used to, and you need to cut back on those expenses. That’s definitely true, but one place that you shouldn’t cut back on is on getting necessary help with your moods. There is nothing that makes looking for work harder or less successful than being seriously depressed. You walk in to that interview room and people can sense that you are not all that animated and energetic. Get the help that you need.

For more ideas we suggest you look at these books –

What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles. Richard is most famous for pointing out that most jobs are never advertised and popularizing the “informational interview.” However, we like this book especially for the back part that is a wonderful discussion about how to find a job that matches your passions.

Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters. Jay Levinson has done an excellent job summarizing the most effective strategies for job hunting in the information age. Strongly recommended if you work in a tech field.