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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 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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