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How To Make The Most Of Being Unemployed

How To Make The Most Of Being Unemployed

If you are like me, in her 30’s and has had her fair share of being in and out of the workforce, you would know that being unemployed – aside from not earning the money that will pay your bills, is not that bad at all. That is, if you use this fleeting space in your life wisely.

Think of it as your own personal space. When else are you able to accomplish things without a deadline, or where nobody is evaluating your performance or expecting that you do a task a certain time? In this time of job uncertainty, make the most of your time out of the workforce. Now is your time to make yourself a better you.

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Find out what you really want.

Why did you leave your last job? Was it what you really wanted to do and what you were passionate about? Use this blank space in your career to evaluate yourself – passions, opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses. Now is your time to reflect. Use what you find out about yourself in choosing your next job opportunities.

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    Slack, but do work.

    Yes, this is the right time to slack off. No need to be at work by 8:00 am. No boss to please and no more fitting in runs to the vet for your pet’s appointment in between meetings. Awesome. But this probably isn’t what you want your life to be like forever. What you should do is get up from bed and scan the job market. Research about the company that you have always wanted to work for. Send out resumes.

    Do something you have always wanted to do.

    Dye your hair purple. Take on that hike that you never got to do because your back was always aching (thanks to your office chair). This is the perfect time to make the story of your life more colorful.

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    Learn something new.

    Attend a writing class. Get a canvas and start painting. Register for free online Excel classes. Learn to cook new dishes. Find a hobby that you can enjoy now, and that you can continue doing when you find your next job. All of these will contribute to an improved you.

    Spend time with loved ones.

    Go visit grandma and grandpa on their farm. Call your sister and ask if you can babysit her kids while she is out. Go to your parents’ house and watch a movie. Or ask them to come over. This jobless period in your life is fleeting, and so is life. So spend time with people closest to your heart.

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    Start being healthy.

    Go use that rusting bike in the garage and make it a habit to bike at least three times a week. Or start using the old treadmill in the attic and start walking or jogging around your neighborhood. Then keep on the habit.

    Be where you always wanted to be.

    Go visit another town. Or state that you have always been fascinated about. This doesn’t only make you a well-travelled person but exposes you to a different environment where your next opportunity might be waiting.

    Meet new people.

    Remember those weekends when you were stuck running errands that you couldn’t do on weekends? They are gone for now. Use your new weekends to make time to have conversations with people that you cross paths with. Make a connection. Whether it is your next-door-neighbor that is mowing their lawn and you’ve never spoken to before, or a person in the grocery aisle looking at the same product as you.

    Prepare yourself for a new you. Inhale. Brace yourself for a new you. Your next job could be standing really close to you. Be a better person for it. Savor the time where you don’t have to report to anyone but yourself. Let this time in your life turn you into a stronger and deeper person, and not the other way around. Chances like these don’t come around a lot, and when they do, make sure that you come out of it the most brilliant, well-rounded person than you have ever been before.

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    Sarah Bonander

    Writer, Human Resources Professional

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    Last Updated on September 28, 2020

    How to Change Careers Successfully When It Seems too Late

    How to Change Careers Successfully When It Seems too Late

    The wake-up call often comes when you least expect it. Maybe you’re enjoying a relaxing get-together with your old college buddies when someone turns to you and says, “Wow, I never thought you’d become an investment banker. I always thought you’d write a novel!” If this leaves you wondering how to change careers, you’re not alone.

    Before you know it, you find yourself remembering your old dreams—and comparing them to the career field where you are now. Life rarely goes according to plan. Marriage, kids, and grandkids often come earlier than imagined—or later.

    Maybe you pursued one career path because you were considered the breadwinner, but now someone else in the family is the breadwinner. Conversely, maybe you landed a job, thinking you’d stay for six months, and now you’ve been there for sixteen years.

    A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed out that “baby boomers held an average of 12.3 jobs from ages 18 to 52″[1]. For millennials, who are more technologically apt, that number is likely to be much higher.

    As this proves, it’s perfectly normal to change careers and begin a job search even when it seems too late! Steering your way through a career change is part calculation, part chance, and part leap-of-faith.

    If you feel stuck and are ready for a career change, take these steps to guide you.

    Step 1: Be Mentally Prepared

    These points can help you master the psychological aspects of a career change at any age.

    Now or Never Is a Fallacy

    For most professionals, there is no cut-off age for striking out in a new direction. People do it at all stages of their careers.

    If you’ve ever dreamed of leaving a large company to start your own business, you are not alone. Similarly, thousands of entrepreneurs and people working for one-man shops decide each year that they’d like to work for larger organizations.

    You’ll find hordes of baby boomers looking for a redo alongside mobs of GenXers and Millennials—especially as the boomers now remain in the workforce longer than their predecessors.

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    Your Career Is not a Straight Line From A to B

    You don’t have to have your career trajectory completely decided from the start. In fact, that’s an unrealistic expectation, no matter how methodical you are.

    People change. Industries merge, morph, and in some cases, disappear. Careers rarely follow the straight and narrow.

    Many careers can be compared to journeys—there are the adventurous patches, boring patches, downright scary patches, and the hills and valleys, too. The trick is to try to have a little fun while you’re charting out your various careers.

    Don’t panic if you find you need to change your career. It may take some work as you sort through job posts, write cover letters, and pursue your dream job, but you’re up for it.

    Career Changers Are Among Good Company

    Consider these well-known trailblazers whose careers took a radical turn:

    Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, studied computer science and electrical engineering at Princeton, went on to establish himself as a Wall Street prodigy, then quit to launch Amazon.com.

    Sara Blakely, a billionaire businesswoman, was a fax machine salesperson before creating her signature slim wear line, Spanx.

    Jonah Peretti, co-founder of the media sites Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, initially taught computer science to middle schoolers.

    Be Ready to Take on the Naysayers

    Expect plenty of advice—usually of the discouraging kind—from friends and family when they learn that you’re exploring a career change. Those you know best are often the most vocal in trying to thwart your plans.

    Be prepared to field a flurry of pessimistic conjecture and doomsday scenarios. Know, though, that when your loved ones question your judgment, they’re not necessarily doubting your talent but trying to look out for your wellbeing. Stepping out of your comfort zone will make anyone close to you uncomfortable.

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    Keep in mind that pessimists avoid the unknown, while optimists invite new challenges. Above all, believe in yourself and follow your instincts. Don’t let your fear of change paralyze you from seeking out your new career path.

    Project an aura of enthusiasm, energy, and passion. You’ll find it’s contagious.

    Step 2: Be Proactive

    These tips can help you master the practical aspects of changing careers at any age.

    Take Baby Steps

    Ease into your new direction. Start building the skills you’ll need to make the switch.

    Find out what skills you will need, and do whatever it takes to add them to your skills arsenal. Make the time to invest in additional training.

    Start by devoting a half-day each week to your new pursuit until you’re ready to confidently make a move.

    Clearly define where you want to go and what you’ll need to do to get there. Take an inventory of your strengths. Read trade magazines, and study up on industry trends.

    Volunteer

    Charitable organizations are often looking for volunteers to help them with their outreach, social media, and engagement. You can show up without the requisite skills and learn as you go in a fun, convivial, low-pressure environment, which will help you expand your experience and skills.

    Take Online Courses

    Today, LinkedIn and many other providers offer online courses in everything from accounting software to time management to mastering Excel. For extra credit, see if you can find classes that award online badges for completing each course.

    Don’t be shy about adding these certificates to your online profile. Keep your profile fresh by adding more and more skills to it.

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    Take a Temp Job

    Depending on your field, it may be possible to freelance at a company where you learn on the job.

    Remember that you can’t just show up at a potential employer’s claiming you have the skills. Taking a temporary job that allows you to polish your skills is proof that you’re serious about your career change.

    Network!

    Build a family tree of contacts. Explore beyond the main branches of your work acquaintances, industry groups, and social contacts. Join your alumni organization. Tell everyone.

    Ask friends and friends-of-friends to meet you for coffee to explain what it is they do and tell you which skills you’ll need to succeed in your chosen field[2].

    When you want to learn how to change careers, start by networking!

      If you have friends or associates with ties to the organizations where you want to work, ask your contacts to make an introduction. The majority of today’s jobs are found through one’s own networks. When jobs open up, companies invite informal recommendations from internal and external channels.

      Step 3: Take It Online

      This last step can help you master the online aspects of a career change at any age.

      Develop an Online Presence in the Field of Your Dreams

      Reconfiguring your online presence will be a critical step in your career change. Fine-tune your digital identity to reflect your new direction, tailoring your profile to the role and industry you’re after. Include keywords that are relevant to the industry so that recruiters can find you.

      Craft a clever personal statement that states your interests, your values, and your dreams. Once you’ve zeroed in on your message, also pick and choose which outlets make the most sense for it.

      Will your personal statement resonate on LinkedIn? Or is it highly visual—making it a better fit for Instagram?

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      Polish your sites until they gleam, then get active so others take notice. Add insightful content to your social media pages that goes deeper than the information on your resume, such as commentaries on something taking place in your newly chosen field.

      For more on how to build an online presence, check out this article.

      Final Thoughts

      Americans spend 1,800 hours or more each year working. That’s nearly one-third of your life, and it goes without saying that your job satisfaction and career goals have a great bearing on your life’s happiness barometer.

      Set out to intentionally pursue career satisfaction, looking for opportunities to fine-tune your working life so that you find fulfillment.

      If playing the piano is your personal bliss, could you meld your love of music with your clinical psychology background and find a job using music to promote healing? Perhaps there’s a foundation that would fund you in a multiyear study.

      Or, if you’re a movie buff for whom every encounter has the makings of a screenplay, why not sign up for an evening class and see if your years of writing advertising copy could morph into a career move into the film industry?

      Achieving your career change successfully will occur when you mentally prepare, take a proactive approach, and mine your personal and online networks. The pay-off will be in a life well-lived in a successful career.

      More Tips on How to Change Careers

      Featured photo credit: Jason Strull via unsplash.com

      Reference

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