You no longer have a boss to direct your day, so you need to become your own boss. Here are 5 specific ways to productively use your time after losing a job, whether through a layoff, firing, relocation, or for another reason.
- Vow to be active: The most important thing you can do when becoming unemployed is to promise yourself to stay active and not waste time on passive activities, no matter how long it takes to find a new job. So plan each day, get up early, and get dressed. Create a schedule—on paper or electronically—that focuses on the activities described in this post. Job hunting should take most of your day, as I explain next, but you’ll still have hours to fill without commuting, business lunches and breaks, and water-cooler chat. Avoid too much TV. Don’t get pulled into online games and mindless web surfing.
- Focus on job hunting: I suggest you concentrate most of your time on job searching. It may take longer to find work than you think it will, so get started immediately. Be sure to apply for unemployment insurance, even if you are not sure you are eligible. Check with your local Career One-Stop (which may go by a different name in your area) for free resume and job search assistance, job clubs, career assessments, and other assistance. Ask the Career One-Stop whether you are eligible for free career training, courtesy of Uncle Sam. Enhance your presence on LinkedIn and network to find job opportunities. Let everyone you know that you are looking for work. Develop an elevator speech that summarizes your career interests and experience. Research potential employers. Practice your interview skills. Contact employers of interest, even if they aren’t advertising for help, and present your skills and experience to them.
- Envision your future: Consider your future career and personal life. What have you always wanted to do? Where would you like to live? What would you like to accomplish? Jot down all the possibilities. Let this process extend over days and weeks. Keep adding to your notes, and perhaps a picture will come into focus. Set short-term and long-term goals for your career and life, even if they may change in the future.
- Learn all you can: Learning keeps your brain active and develops new skills that can help your future career. So read, practice, take free or low-cost workshops and classes, visit the library, watch documentaries and how-to videos, attend professional events, listen to podcasts, and teach yourself. Focus on honing skills that can help you on the job, such as writing, leadership, public speaking, and technology skills.
- Volunteer and get involved: Getting involved in your industry and community will connect you to people, help you use and develop skills, provide new experiences for your resume, and get you out of the house. If you’ve always wanted to volunteer for a group or organization, this is an ideal opportunity to do so.