This was originally published on Career Metis!
I am surprised how many job seekers become dull while unemployed. Now we can discuss how he or she becomes dull while working a job, but that is for another time. Dull people miss opportunities passing under his or her nose. WAKE UP! Is this you?
Working a temporary or contract position is the ultimate because you’re earning while building relationships with your co-workers.
Of course, we have to include a side hustle. That can also fill in space.
If you’re not working in some capacity, laziness could be at your doorstep. Yes, you become lazy, sleepy, and sedentary! It affects everything and every part of your life when your unemployed.
Here are a few signs you’re becoming dull during this time of your life:
- You are not meeting new people and perhaps too comfortable around people who don’t care enough to challenge you.
- You can’t sit down to read for more than a few minutes without agitation.
- Your health is declining, moody, and not eating as healthy as you can.
- You’re finding comfort and complacency OK by casually responding to job leads.
- You’ve given up on hope and faith in your abilities–you’ve become a settler–you’ll take anything
Here are a few suggestions to remain sharp during a long search:
1. Find a place outside your home to read career and job search related articles, books, or videos. I find it useful especially in meeting others and adding to your network.
2. Join a Job Club (they still exist), LinkedIn groups, Twitter chats. Challenges aren’t always direct, but when you hear other people’s successes and failures, you’re more motivated. Then when you’re succeeding is certain parts, you can encourage others. Courage, patience, persistence, perseverance, and resilience if often underestimated and underused in our lives. You can’t put a price on those attributes. Or, you can create one and invite those in your neighborhood.
3. Get out and workout. If you don’t have a gym membership (by the way, check out your local YMCA, park district, for affordable memberships), then look up “Playground Workouts” on YouTube. There are many rigorous and challenging workouts to learn and do. It has been proven exercise challenges you mentally.
4. Read and write. It doesn’t have to be something career related. You just need to feed your brain in a way to keep you sharp. Too many people want to sit in front of the television or computer to participate in mindless activities. It is better to be in learning mode than distracted. Writing will counteract dullness even quicker (that was a non-scientific statement). Crossword puzzles help as well as writing poetry.
5. Teaching/coaching/instructing/mentoring. Career related is a first choice although you’re not limited to your industry. I would say even helping your kids with homework is a way to remain cognitively engaged. If you don’t have kids, volunteer. Tutoring is useful to your mind and skills.
. Experience you lack volunteering can help you get what you need to get hired. If you’re looking for a leadership position then joining a board of directors is not hard at all. Sometimes, there is a vetting process, but most non-profits are looking to fill seats.
7. Keep a schedule. When you’re unemployed, it is a very good time to maintain or gain discipline. A schedule will sharpen your focus and impress people you network with because you have a purpose. Even if you’re single and living at home with your parents, a schedule will help keep you discipline. It’s best to fill your schedule, especially during the week.
8. Practice interviewing. Since there are so many books to read with interview questions, it’s hard to narrow down to one choice. But more importantly than the book, practice with someone who can help you get better in answering questions.
9. Help and serve family or extended family members. Why shouldn’t others benefit from your extra time? When you focused on yourself, there are temptations of depression and unhealthy doses of isolation. When you look for opportunities to give to family members, it only makes the time you spend serving better and more fulfilling.
There are so many other ways to sharpen your mind at a time.
It happens too often where people will go to interviews stumbling on frequently asked questions, unfocused, and lacking clarity. I have had clients who were asked in an interview what they have been doing during unemployment. Employers want to hear more substantive than, “Looking for a job.”