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7 Surprising Ways To Take Advantage Of Your Unemployment

7 Surprising Ways To Take Advantage Of Your Unemployment
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You’re unemployed, now what? You can sit around in your underwear, sending out countless resumes to the infinite abyss of online applications while feeling sorry for yourself and your current state of affairs. Or, you can accept the fact that your college major was useless and efficiently use this amount of free time as opportunity to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in January 2014 was 6.6 percent. Here’s how to take advantage of your unemployment:

1. Find what you love to do.
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    In Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, she introduces the idea that you can choose what you do every day, but you can’t choose what you like to do. Do you love accounting? Maybe you’d like teaching, or advertising, or nursing. Before you dive into your next job, though, shadow people who have jobs that look interesting. You might find that the glamorous jobs involve a lot more day-to-day paperwork than you expected and the lower paying jobs have a lot more perks you had not thought of.

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    2. Learn a skill.

    Brush up on your high school French. Watch YouTube videos and learn to bake. Take a class a class on Photoshop at the public library. Learning a new skill builds your self confidence and bulks up your resume. Another great use of this time is to learn to code. Codeacademy has very user friendly programs for beginners to learn HTML, CSS, etc.

    3. Explore social media.

    While seeing your friends happily employed on Facebook might not seem appealing at this time in your life, learning the “ins” and “outs” social media platforms will be beneficial in almost any career you choose. In addition, it’s a great way to market yourself. Build an online resume. Revise your LinkedIn profile. According to survey by CareerBuilder, 48 percent of employers will use Google or other search engines to find out more information about potential candidates. Don’t miss out on an opportunity because you didn’t take the time to take down your Spring Break photos.

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    4. Network, network, network.

    In 2010, a survey by the staffing company Right Management, found that 41 percent of the 59,133 clients they surveyed found their job through networking. This was significantly higher than the 25 percent who landed their job through internet search boards. You can attend formal events, but if they make you uncomfortable, start small. Go to company happy hours with your friends and meet their co-workers. Reach out to your alumni association. Talk to your family and friends. Having a connection to an organization you want to work for helps get your resume to the people that need to see it versus having it be sorted out through a computer that looks for keywords.

    5. Volunteer.

    Volunteering can provide a lot of opportunities. You can learn new skills as well as network with people you might not have had access to. Helping out others will also help put your situation into perspective. You have a lot of time on your hands to feel sorry for yourself and worry about your student loan debt. Helping others can remind you that everyone faces their own struggles and often seeing the strength of others is extremely inspiring.

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    6. Spend time with your family and friends.

    When you’re working 60 hours a week, you’re going to miss being able to cook for your family or spending long days with your grandparents. You can only fill out your work history in automated forms so many times before you lose it. Go bake cookies with your niece when she gets home from school. Invite your friends over for a dinner party. A job will eventually come, but opportunities to make meaningful memories with those you love may not come around as often as you think once you get busy again.

    7. Work on yourself.

    Consider your job at this time to be self-improvement. Often being unemployed makes you feel vulnerable and unsure of the future. Take this time and make yourself stronger. Eat healthy. Exercise. Build routines now and experiment with new activities and hobbies. Not only you will you feel better, but when an employer inevitably asks, “So tell me an interesting fact about yourself,” you’ll have something to say besides you love HBO on Sundays.

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    Whether you walked out of your old job to follow your passion of line dancing or were fired because you sent Snapchats of yourself drinking at your desk to your boss, it’s time to put your big girl panties on and make the most of this free time. It’s a unique chance in your life to change directions  and explore the world around you. You will eventually have a job again and your 30 minute lunch break will not be enough time to accomplish anything more than ordering a sandwich at Cosi. Embrace it and enjoy that paycheck when you finally see it again.

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    Published on July 27, 2021

    15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

    15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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    During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

    But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

    Put the Pro in Professional

    After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

    1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

    The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

    Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

    2. Dress the Part

    While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

    Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

    For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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    Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

    3. Stage Your Workspace

    Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

    Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

    4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

    Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

    Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

    Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

    Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

    5. Arrive on Time

    In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

    Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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    6. Turn on Your Video

    Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

    If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

    Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

    7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

    Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

    Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

    Attend to the Pesky Details

    8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

    With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

    Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

    9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

    Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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    Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

    10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

    As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

    Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

    Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

    Talking Has a Time and a Place

    11. Chat Appropriately

    Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

    At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

    12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

    The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

    Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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    13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

    In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

    Manage Yourself

    14. Minimize Distractions

    While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

    Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

    15. Save Snacking for Later

    Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

    However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

    Final Thoughts

    Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

    Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

    Reference

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