6 Things I Learned From Being Unemployed

6 Things I Learned From Being Unemployed

Being unemployed is no fun. I spent over a year searching for a job a few years ago and it was an eye opening experience. I went through the ups and downs of spending most of my time on job boards, fixing up my resume and keeping my fingers crossed that I was good enough for an interview. Here are the 6 things I learned from being unemployed.

1. It Will Be Fun For a While, But Get Old Quickly

I was motivated and really tried during every second of the day to find a job. There was always a tab open that was for some kind of job search website. I had been to most of the more common ones: Career BuilderMonsterIndeedSimply HiredCraigslist Jobs/Gigs and LinkedIn.

I’ve also tried to utilize a site that seems to be specific to my university, Career Bridge. But after the first month or two you realize that ‘entry-level’ is no longer synonymous with ‘recent grad’ but now ‘2-7 years of experience’ (depending on the company looking to hire). You start to get that unemployment blues…

Related: 5 Habits Every 20-Something Should Have

2. Finding a Job is Incredibly Hard

Holy crap. Was it really this hard to find a job when I was first looking for a job? I don’t think I forgot how hard it was, but I guess since my savings is depleting and money is tighter it seems much harder. Finding a job that’s full-time and pays more than $10 an hour in my area was incredibly hard. I actually ended up settling for a part-time job at $10 per hour which has turned into the job I have and love now.

Related: 5 Things I Regret NOT Doing in College

3. Time Becomes Irrelevant

It’s hard to keep track of days. Time doesn’t exist. Hours blending into days which blend into weeks. I’d look up and realize, oh crap. When did it become Friday?  When you don’t have a set schedule and you try and stay home to conserve money, everything becomes a blur.

Try keeping some sort of schedule. Wake up around the same time every day, take a shower and get dressed. There’s nothing that makes time irrelevant than staying in your pjs all day on the internet.

Related: 6 Ways to Make Your Summer More Productive

4. Eating Normally Just Won’t Happen

Maybe you’re really good at making sure you have at least 3 meals per day that’s fully balanced with protein, veggies and whatever else your diet needs.

But that wasn’t me. It was a lot easier to wake up and snack on popcorn all day while searching job boards. It’s a lot easier because it will eventually fill you up and if you’re not doing much besides sitting on the computer all day, you don’t have the energy to burn it off so quickly.

Related: 8 Things to Remember When Creating Your Resume

5. You Will Always Be Tired

This could have been my depression talking after the first 6 months of unemployment, but if you manage to keep up with a regular sleep schedule and keep active, then congratulations. You were about 3 steps ahead of me. I spent most of my time on netflix and sometimes I look at the clock and it’s 3am and I should go to sleep. Then you don’t wake up until noon, making it hard to want to go out, because by the time you get up, eat, shower… You rather stay in.

But if you do still wake up at some “normal” time, you will take naps. Hell, you’ll take naps even if you just woke up. I’ve woken up, eaten breakfast and scoured the internet for an hour or two, then taken a nap.

Related: 5 Things to Remember When Job Searching

6. You Will Spend Your Free Time Online

Having more time to just dick around on the internet I managed to blog more, tweet more, tumbl more and became a frequent resident of Reddit.

When you’re short on cash with very little within walking distance, it’s better to stay inside and not use the gas money driving around. There was nothing around me except stores, so what’s the point in walking to one when you’re too broke to buy anything?

 

So How Do You Combat This Unemployment Fog?

There are many ways to keep yourself on track when job searching that don’t require money.

Keep a strict schedule…

…where you take a shower, change your clothes and make it feel like your time job searching is an actual job. There’s nothing worse than getting into the cycle of staying in your pjs all day and being super lazy.

Keep your room/apartment clean

One thing I noticed while unemployed was how messy my studio got. When you barely have the motivation to get out of bed, throwing your dirty clothes on the floor seems like a good idea.

Talk to friends, family or even random people on the internet

Family may have the habit of asking you how the job search is going, but friends tend to be more supportive. One thing I failed at while unemployed was verbal communication. I became a hermit and barely spoke for months. Then I had an actual job interview and tripped over my words. Keeping in contact also can help build confidence and make you feel better.

Utilize Networking Events

I never did, but my university held multiple networking events for alumni all over the country. Since I didn’t have a specific career path, I felt it wouldn’t help me. You never know where your next job will come from.

Be productive

A bit vague, right? But seriously, keep your mind active. Sitting in front of your computer for 8 hours a day, whether you’re applying to jobs or not, can really kill your want to better yourself. Take breaks, read a book, go for a walk around the block, look into taking a free online course, anything to break the monotony and keep you from being content watching funny cat videos all day.

Don’t kill yourself

Take breaks if you need to. Give yourself a day off and play video games. You can only spend so many days straight applying to job after job before you get overwhelmed.

 

Learn something different from being unemployed? Have your own coping techniques? Let me know in the comments below!

  • You really hit the nail on the head with this! Loved reading this!

    • Thanks! I spent over a year unemployed, so I know how much it sucks. Even if I can help just one person figure out their ways of their own situation, I’ll be happy. =)

  • Yuzful

    You are spot on talking about me here, 100%!! Your article was so therapeutic, thank you!!
    Unemployed after 20 years of working. Feels like there is nothing else left to do in life.
    Young people should actually value their jobs and make any effort to be productive and make any effort to rise to their highest potential!

  • Ellie

    I’ve been unemployed so many times since leaving school. It’s horrible. I graduated into the recession, so had to apply for over a year just to get onto a voluntary jobshare. That turned into paid part time for a bit until the whole team was sacked. Then 6 months of nothing before a year contract. That ended and nothing for months. Got a minimum wage permanent job for 2.5 years, then the team were made redundant. Back to square one!

    I’m 30 now and all I’ve managed to get are low paid temp jobs that go nowhere, then finish. And they arevin different fields, since I’ve had to accept whatever I could get to pay the bills. So my CV is a mess.

    I’m seriously panicking about the future. 20s and 30s are supposed to be when you establish your career, pay off student debt, save for home and pension. I can’t even afford to drive and I’ve given up on dating or ever having kids. I will be a homeless bag lady by the time I reach 50, if not before.

    My last contract ended in spring and I’m job hunting yet again. Anti-depressants no longer work and GP is tired of seeing me. The STEM skills shortage is a lie. I’m great with numbers, data and programming and still can’t get a decent job. So I have no idea how people without these apparently much valued skills manage to do it!