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7 Surprising Ways To Take Advantage Of Your Unemployment

7 Surprising Ways To Take Advantage Of Your Unemployment

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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    Last Updated on June 18, 2019

    5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

    5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

    It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

    The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

    With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

    5 Types of Leadership Styles

    I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

    The Democratic Style

    The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

    The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

      The Autocratic Style

      The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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      The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

      While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

        The Transformational Style

        Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

        Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

        Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

          The Transactional Style

          Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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          The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

          The Laissez-Faire Style

          The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

          In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

          Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

          You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

          Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

          The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

          Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

          I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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          In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

          What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

          Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

          1. Context Matters

          Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

          2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

          When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

          As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

          “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

          The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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          As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

          When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

          The Way Forward

          To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

          As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

          “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

          The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

          If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

          Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

          Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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