I am surprised how many job seekers become dull while unemployed. We can discuss how he or she becomes dull while working a job (to be discussed in another article). Dull people miss opportunities passing under their noses. WAKE UP!
Working a temporary or contract position is the ultimate because you earn while building relationships with your co-workers.
Of course, we have to include a side hustle.
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 you’re 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, and you are moody and not eating as healthily 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 job search:
1. Find a place outside your home to read career and job search-related articles, books, or videos. I find it helpful to meet others and add to your network.
2. Join a Job Club (they still exist), LinkedIn groups, and Twitter chats. Challenges aren’t always direct, but you’re more motivated when you hear about other people’s successes and failures. Then when you’re succeeding in certain parts, you can encourage others. Courage, patience, persistence, perseverance, and resilience are often underestimated and underused in our lives. You can’t put a price on those attributes. Or, you can create a job club and invite those in your neighborhood. You can do what I did and work with your church or one near you to host one.
3. Get out and work out. If you don’t have a gym membership (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 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 mindlessly. Writing will counteract dullness even quicker (non-scientific statement). Crossword puzzles help as well as writing poetry.
5. Teaching/coaching/instructing/mentoring. Career-related participation is the first choice, although you’re not limited to your industry. I would even say helping your kids with homework is a way to remain cognitively engaged. If you don’t have kids, volunteer.
. With the experience you lack, volunteering can help you get what you need to get hired. If you’re looking for a leadership position, joining a board of directors is not hard. Sometimes, there is a vetting process, but most non-profits want to fill seats. Consider this as an easy win in sharpening your skills.
7. Keep a schedule. It is a very good time to maintain or gain discipline when you’re unemployed. 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 your discipline. It’s best to fill your schedule to optimize potential opportunities, 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 important than the book, practice with someone who can help you get better at answering questions. While I don’t recommend scripting rehearsed answers, the practice will inform your thoughts of how you’ll need to come across.
9. Help and serve family or extended family members. Why shouldn’t others benefit from your extra time? When you focus on yourself, there are temptations of self-doubt and unhealthy doses of isolation. Looking for opportunities to give to family members without asking for anything brings personal satisfaction.
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 more substantive answers than “Looking for a job.”