You may be entering your first week on the job market, or you might be ending your first full year without steady work. But no matter how long you’ve been facing this experience, you’ve had a chance to learn at least one important fact: unemployment is no picnic. At first, you may worry most about the growing gap in your resume or the shrinking dollars in your bank account. But in time, other concerns begin to creep in as well: What if your car needs expensive repairs and you’re left stranded? What if your friends, family, and network contacts begin to give up on you? What if your health starts to suffer as a result of long-term stress?
First, don’t let your anxieties get the best of you. These concerns are common, but most of them are not realistic. And second, keep these nine simple moves on your daily to-do list as you move through each day on the job market. These small actions will keep you motivated, connected, and healthy.
- Exercise. In order to stay healthy, focused, and clear headed, you need at least 20 minutes of physical activity each day. If you choose, you can break this down into ten minutes in the morning and ten in the afternoon. Can’t afford a gym membership? Take a walk.
- Have at least one non-work related conversation. Have at least one idle chat with someone outside of your family who doesn’t live with you. Sometimes it’s necessary to piece the bubble of self-involvement that forms around you as you struggle with your professional goals.
- Be grateful. At least once each day, move down through a list of things that are going well, things you enjoy about your life, and the little strokes of luck, love, health and happiness that illuminate your otherwise dark path like paper lanterns.
- Be kind to someone who can do nothing for you. This might be a hungry person on a park bench, a stranger on the internet, a stray cat, or a friend with bigger problems that yours. A simple word of genuine kindness will cost you nothing, and it might feel great. Start with at least one per day.
- Submit three to five resumes. This is a minimum. You can raise the number depending on your circumstances.
- Make at least two phone calls. The phone is dropping in popularity in the professional world, but this tool still has its uses.
- Eat some fruit and some vegetables. Make it happen. It doesn’t really matter how much or what kind; just get a little bit of both into your system every day. This is especially important in the winter when healthy eating can become a challenge.
- Ask for something. Each day, ask someone for something. Don’t go back to the same friend over and over, of course, but reach out to strangers, hiring managers, remote network contacts, people you met at recent events, or people you used to work with. If you don’t need anyone to help you move or drive you to the airport, simply ask someone to pass the salt, share their opinion on a world event, or give you a word of encouragement. Asking is like offering: It’s a muscle that needs frequent use in order to stay strong. Unemployment can be isolating, and isolation stiffens this muscle. Keep it limber.
- Research your competition. Thousands of resumes are being submitted to employers every minute. So you don’t want to blend into the crowd or disappear altogether. Compare your resume to the competition by taking a look at resume examples in your industry. With over 800,000 real-life resume examples, you can see what smart moves—and deal-breaking mistakes—other applicants are making in their search for work.
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