How to Make the Most Out of Unemployment
A Guide to Dealing with the Uncertainties of Being Unemployed
So far, I’ve been unemployed twice in my life and I’m only 27 years old. That’s definitely nothing to brag about and probably not the most reassuring statement to read when assuming that I am a competent person in the workplace — But believe me, I am.
Whether you have been recently fired, let go, or just quit your job on the fly, you’re probably wondering, ‘Okay, so what do I do now?’
Well, the answer to that is…ANYTHING.
Unemployment is a scary thing, especially if it’s your first time going through it. The fear of uncertainty gets to you — You start worrying about your rent or mortgage, bills, health insurance, and whether or not this little blip in your resume is going to make Employers question you as a candidate.
But honestly, it is not as big of a deal as you think it is…as long as you know that you are a worthy candidate, that your reasons for unemployment are understandable, and that you have the proper work experience and references to land your next job.
The first time that I was let go from a job, I was a new hire at a startup after having left a corporate position at one of the largest publishing companies in the world.
I went for a Salesperson role, which I actually didn’t have any experience in at all. I had been a Digital Media Planner in Publishing for only two years, so this startup position was a new challenge for me.
Ultimately, they ended up letting me go and of course, I was devastated. I used every muscle in my body to hold back the tears when they told me the news.
I felt defeated. My ego was shattered and the thought of ‘What do I do now?’immediately popped in my head. (I was only 25 at the time)
After I spent the next few days crying my eyes out, something inside me clicked. I spontaneously booked a plane ticket to Colorado to visit friends, and then another one to California just for the hell of it. I took a week to myself to get out of my head, purge my thoughts, and just be somewhere else. It was exactly what I needed.
When I returned, I was more relaxed than I had ever been in my life. My head was cleared and I was able to see the situation with a new pair of eyes. I began cleaning the clutter from my life, writing more, making to-do lists, and job hunting.
A few months later, I received freelance work which eventually lead to another job opportunity that ended up being one of the best work experiences I’ve ever had. Everything ended up working out perfectly.
Now…flash forward to present time.
This past October, I took a job at a company that I had previously worked for. A few weeks into starting this new position, I found out that the company was being sold. Then, in January, I found out that my whole team (including myself) unfortunately did not make the cut. In March, I officially no longer had to go into the office. And lo and behold, I was right back where I was two years ago.
Only this time, I am not crying my eyes out. I am not freaking out. I am viewing this as another blessing in disguise because the last time that I was here, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
In the time that I’ve been unemployed this second time around, I ran a lot, wrote a lot (again), cleaned the clutter in my life (again), and took a vacation to Colorado (again). And I enjoyed every bit of it with no fear of uncertainty. And now, I’m about to embark on a brand new job opportunity once again.
If you are reading this and are currently out of work, I want to let you know that everything is going to be okay. And I’m not just saying that because I’m trying to calm you down. I am honestly telling you that everything is going to be okay.
I know it’s a scary thing and I don’t know your situation at all — Maybe you don’t have the funds to coast like I did. Maybe you are many years ahead of me and have a family to take care of. Maybe you have medical bills or student loans that need to be taken care of. Maybe you don’t have any support system whatsoever.
But, before you start jumping to the worst case scenario, this is what you need to do:
- Evaluate your financial situation. Review your checking and savings accounts to see where you are financially before making any reckless decisions. The last thing you want to do is be hanging on by a thread.
- File for unemployment. If you’re worried about being unemployed for an extended period of time, then start an application for unemployment right away. It might take some time for funds to start coming through, so might as well be safe than sorry.
- Get in touch with your loans. If you have student loans (or any loans), contact them and tell them about your situation. You’ll likely be able to pause or defer your payments temporarily due to financial hardship.
- Reach out to your network. Find out if there are any job openings through people that you already know before you start blindly applying through job websites. It’s much easier to get a job as a recommended candidate than applying without any connections.
- Take a trip somewhere. Have you been waiting for the extra vacation time to take that trip you’ve been planning? Well, good news…here is your moment! And I am only recommending this if you are financially stable enough to swing it. Sometimes, being somewhere else can help you avoid over-thinking or stressing yourself out.
- Enjoy the time off. Before you know it, you may be back to work and realize that you didn’t even take the time to just relax and actually enjoy the time off. Spend time with your family and friends. Catch up on your hobbies. Read a good book. Exercise. Enjoy just with yourself for a little bit.
I hope that your journey leads you somewhere great. Do not let this experience defeat you. Take it as a lesson learned. Know that you will rise above. In the words of Maya Angelou,
“While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.”
*This article was originally published by Lindsey Lazarte on LinkedIn.