Dealing with unemployment? Wondering what to do while unemployed? This list of 12 things to do when unemployed will help you get your professional groove back.
With the current unemployment rate in India hitting 27.11% amid the COVID-19 pandemic extended lockdown, it is predicted that 135 million Indians could end up being unemployed.
Global business leaders fear the legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic will be a “prolonged global recession” with massive job loss and unemployment, and a slow recovery that is likely to leave lasting economic “scars” on countries around the world.
The news about the impact that Covid-19 has had on jobs and the economy is indeed gloomy and there are tough times ahead for those dealing with job loss trauma.
As an HR professional who has been unemployed, I empathize with all those who have lost their jobs recently and know that surviving unemployment is not going to be easy for them.
During my out-of-work phase, I personally dealt with a lot of challenges. Having been through this transition, I managed to put together a list of things to do when unemployed.
12 Things To Do When Unemployed During COVID-19
For many people, the questions of how to cope with job loss or how to cope with unemployment during and after the COVID-19 pandemic will be upmost in their minds.
If you’re out of a job and are wondering what to do while unemployed, this list of 12 things to do when unemployed will help you get your professional groove back.
1. It’s ok to not be ok, but don’t stay there
Firstly, it is ok to feel low and it is ok to cry over something like this. You may feel like you have lost a sense of identity and purpose, and you may feel a little unsure.
It’s ok to feel that way. It’s ok to not be ok. Take a day or two to mull over this feeling if you need to, but get a hold of yourself after that.
Losing your job is not the end of the world. As the famous quote by author, Paulo Coelho goes, “You drown not by falling into a river, but by staying submerged in it.”
Remember, this is a situation beyond your control, so the sooner you accept that this is not going to be an easy ride, the faster you will be able to move on.
Accept that it will take time to get back to “normal” and that you need to be calm and patient to ride out the storm.
2. Having a routine helps
Set a routine for yourself. It could be as small as making your own bed or making tea for everyone at home. Getting involved in housework and daily chores will help you deal with your job loss grief and job loss depression symptoms.
While it’s easy to feel sad and depressed or even feel that housework is the most menial of all jobs, in reality, it is not. Managing a house and all the things that support it is an essential part of self-care.
Dive into it, delegate or help out. There’s so much you can learn even when you work with the house help and vendors. For instance, I learnt to practice win-win negotiations with my maid, and conflict resolution between the maid and cook.
Even something like prioritization when shopping for essentials helps. Try not to stay in your pyjamas all day. Having a routine or a set task will give you a feeling of achievement and satisfaction, and will motivate you to take on your next task.
3. Create a dedicated workspace
I, personally, moved a table next to a window, where I placed my laptop, pen and pad. It gave me my own office space to go sit at every day and gave me a purpose.
Tip: Make sure you don’t open the laptop and work out of bed, or lying down or slouching on your sofa. Sit up straight wherever you feel comfortable to work from, and eventually, make it your workspace.
4. Keep yourself busy and occupied
So, what should you work on? I recommend you dedicate no more than two hours to work on job search and applications.
Set aside time to work on your resume, cover letter, write a blog, read interesting articles and watch videos relevant to your job or work. I usually watch some Tedx videos, work on my blog and my freelance projects.
Tip: Spending all your hours focusing on an unemployment job search that could very well end up being a wild goose chase, especially right now with lockdown extensions and delays in the job market, might end up making you anxious and depressed.
Instead, take this time to work on yourself personally and professionally. You’ve finally got the opportunity to get some “me-time” so make use of it wisely!
5. Set realistic goals
Set yourself five realistic goals that don’t seem overwhelming. You could start by trying out a recipe, reading 20 pages of a book every day (or even 10 pages for that matter), planting a vegetable garden, or even calling a few old friends.
Exercise every day for twenty minutes, at least, to get your energy flowing. The idea is to slowly get your mind to shift focus on to yourself, your personal growth and your skills so you can gradually rebuild your confidence.
6. Learn something new
You could try a new hobby at home or teach yourself a new skill. Languages are usually a good way to learn something new because they stimulate the brain.
You could also consider taking an online course to upskill yourself and make yourself more employable in anticipation of a new job or a career change. You can learn almost anything online for free or at a low cost during your unemployment retraining.
7. Avoid binge-watching
Set aside a dedicated “screen-time” for entertainment. Avoid binge-watching shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Star, HBO. Create a schedule for video games. It will help you feel like you’re in control of your day and the time.
Watch your show or movie during meals if you want, and continue again at night before you go to bed. Use the time in between to pursue other goals and get tasks done.
8. Eat at regular times
It’s important to eat 3 meals, and if you love eating, you can snack multiple times a day. But ensure you have a routine and the food you eat is healthy.
Avoid junk food and binge-eating. Stick to fruits, lean meats, lots of veggies and yoghurt. Make sure you follow the same meal routine daily.
For example, Coffee – Breakfast – Fruit – Lunch – Yogurt – Tea – Snack – Dinner – Dessert.
9. Reconnect with your network
Make a list of recruiters, mentors, ex-colleagues, that you can network with once the situation is better. Start reaching out to them and connecting with them to remind them of your capabilities and the kind of opportunities you are looking to take on.
Tip: Don’t come across as too desperate or start hounding them. Remember, they’re also in a difficult position and might want to meet you just to give you clarity on the job market than offer you a job.
10. Follow a sleep routine
It’s ok to have a few days of odd sleep patterns. You’ll have those days of just lying in bed and doing nothing. That’s fine.
Mark them as your off day. But get back to your routine within a day or two and try to stick to a routine so you can get the sleep you need to function.
11. Ask for help
Unfortunately, in India, we don’t have job loss insurance or unemployment benefits. If you’re in dire circumstances and have bills to pay, don’t feel embarrassed to reach out and ask for help.
Many of us are solely dependent on the job we had for our livelihood. In such critical times, there’s nothing wrong with asking friends or relatives to donate food and essentials if they can afford it.
Financial help is not the only help you may need. If you find yourself battling anxiety and depression, consider talking to an online therapist or unemployment counsellor for job loss counselling.
12. Consider a career change
Consider a career change, if you want one, or if you work in a job that no longer exists or is being replaced by automation. You could even consider remote jobs or work-from-home jobs.
This is the time for self-focus and self-discovery. Sometimes a second career can mean having to take on a job with less pay, but that’s fine because you need to start somewhere. And something is always better than nothing.
This list of things to do when unemployed is a just starter kit to get your life back into a routine and back in order. Getting back into the workforce may not be as easy and may take more time.
But, if you have faith and don’t give up, it will happen. You’ll have a job again soon and make a comeback to the workforce with a fresh perspective.
Till that time, stay relevant and up-to-date with your job skills and expertise and try not to let your emotions get the better of you in these challenging times.
Following these unemployment tips will help you stay motivated and focused. You will start to feel better, slowly but surely. Do you have any more tips for surviving unemployment or job loss? Do share them in the comments below.
About The Author:
Sitara Cariappa has 10 years of Consulting and line HR experience. Previously, she worked as the HOD with Taj Hotels, as a Talent Specialist with DSM India and as an OD and L&D Consultant with Hay Group & InspireOne. She is currently a Consultant with The Ultimate Toolkit India. Sitara loves Art, Music and Languages, is well versed in English, Hindi, Kannada, French and is currently learning Mandarin. In her spare time, she runs a Food blog under the Instagram name @thedrunkenpig that talks about her family, cultural background, Coorg, traditional cuisine, restaurants and bars, and recipes.
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