When professionals find themselves suddenly unemployed, the mental stress can be overwhelming. The lack of focus in your life can become demotivating, and the longer the situation lasts, a sense of hopelessness may set in. One of the best ways to regain your drive and focus is to find something productive to work on in the interim.
Engaging in self-improvement efforts when you are in between jobs can help you build a stronger foundation for charting a new course. Here, ten members of Forbes Coaches Council discuss critical things you can work on to stay as sharp as possible until you land your next role.
1. Brush Up On Your Skill Set
One thing I always encourage clients who are in a season of unemployment to do is to brush up on their skill set. Using online classes to get current on social media, technology and the importance of growing their brand will help make them more marketable and valuable in today’s job market. This is a perfect opportunity for them to really show their value to a new potential employer. – Jon Dwoskin, The Jon Dwoskin Experience
2. Develop Software Skills
Software skills are essential, and the technologies used by employers are constantly evolving. Use this time to learn the latest packages or upgrade your knowledge in the ones you already use. For those of us over 40, who might experience age discrimination, demonstrating top-tier technological aptitude will mitigate doubts that your technical skills aren’t up to date. – Scott Singer, Insider Career Strategies
3. Strengthen Your Network
Companies highly value employee referrals when searching for talent. Today, your network is your pipeline to opportunities, yet time-poor professionals often neglect this all-important task. Invest this rare free time to strengthen strategic relationships, post articles and engage in conversations in talent communities that build your credibility, authority and visibility. – Gillian Kelly, Outplacement Australia
4. Advance Your Education
This doesn’t have to mean getting a degree, or another degree. It may mean taking multi-hour or one-day courses, nailing down a certification quickly or adding several key courses relevant to the skills and knowledge you will need to level up and be a fit for job openings that have clear requirements. Too many unemployed people spend too much time lamenting instead of fueling up. Fuel your mind. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
5. Create A Personal Strategic Plan
This is a great time to evaluate your purpose and direction in life. When you suddenly find yourself out of work, you may feel lost. That’s because your job defined you; you didn’t define your job. Now is the time to sit down and create a personal strategic plan that defines your mission, purpose, values and vision. Armed with this, you can build your plan for the future. – John Knotts, Crosscutter Enterprises
6. Learn How To Communicate Your Relevant Value
In highly competitive job markets, hiring managers are looking for top talent that has delivered relevant value and made an impact in current or prior roles. Now is a great time to get over your fear of “bragging” and embrace the fact that you have made an impact! Learn how to express this based specifically on the roles you seek. – Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC
7. Reframe Your Thinking
Stop wallowing in the bitterness of previous bad experiences. No one is looking to hire resentful individuals who convey an unwillingness to see the learning opportunities in their current circumstances. You can reframe your thinking toward future success based on discovery and insights gained by shifting your thoughts to, “What is this situation teaching me?” A positive outlook always prevails. – Sheila Carmichael, Transitions D2D, LLC
8. Build A Resilient And Agile Mindset
Focus on creating and growing in other aspects of your life to build a resilient and agile mindset. Focusing on the lack of employment leads to feelings of frustration, guilt and self-doubt, all of which are unproductive. Focusing on abundance in other areas instead will make one happy, grateful and more optimistic about future outcomes, which can lead to better prospects that otherwise would have been ignored. – Arthi Rabikrisson, Prerna Advisory
9. Do Nonprofit Or Community-Based Work
One of the best things I have counseled those in transition to do is to stay or get involved in nonprofit or community-based organizations. This kind of work not only gives one a sense of purpose, but it also provides opportunities to network with other volunteers, which is a key need for every job seeker. – Dan Ryan, ryan partners
10. Reflect, Reevaluate, Redefine And Reset
The free time gained when you’re unemployed provides the best opportunity to reflect, reevaluate, redefine and reset. Through the process of working on these “four Rs,” you will be able to gain clarity while investing your free time in developing the skills you need. Personal growth is a never-ending journey, and if you don’t invest in your own development, then you’re not using a period of unemployment wisely. Prepare for the opportunities that are to come! – Lillit Cholakian, NewGen Global Leaders