Avoid the Couch Potato Syndrome During Unemployment!
Your waistline isn’t the only thing that you stand to lose if you just sit back like a couch potato and collect unemployment compensation during your time off. Your career will suffer too. I know, I know. It’s hard out there. And, with unemployment continuing to soar, there are lots of great people out on the streets competing for the same positions making it extremely challenging to land a great opportunity. However, the same rule applies as before – the longer you stay out of the workforce, the harder it will be to find a job. Why? Because as time passes, your talent becomes stale. Your talent does have a shelf life. The longer you are unemployed, the less marketable, less competitive and less impressive you become. So, what’s a person to do when faced with an usually long period of unemployment? Show that you’ve spent your time away from the workforce wisely.
Volunteer. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’m a huge fan of volunteering. Not only is it a positive, feel good thing to do, but volunteering can help you gain valuable experience and develop talent that looks great on a resume. Besides, it sounds a lot better in an interview to say that you’ve been enhancing your skills through volunteer work than spending your days simply looking for a job. The latter scenario screams couch potato. And, couch potatoes get no love from recruiters!
Create Your Own Opportunity. Who said that you had to wait for somebody to give you a job? If you’re truly ambitious, create your own! Many employers appreciate an entrepreneurial spirit and will give you extra points for taking the initiative to blaze your own trail. Starting your own business takes guts, determination, follow through, initiative, project management and self motivation – all of which are highly valued by employers. Perhaps you can provide consulting services in your area of expertise. Perhaps you have a passion that is completely unrelated to your career that you’d like to follow. There are so many things that you can do on your own to generate cash and keep your skills current!
Get an internship. Guess what?!! Internships aren’t only for college students. Don’t be afraid to approach companies about paid or unpaid internships to gain experience or keep your skills sharp during unemployment. It could actually lead to a full-time, paid opportunity and help you build your network of professionals who can help you land that full-time gig.
Find a Side Hustle. While I’m not a huge fan of the typical pyramid schemes, there are some great side businesses that will help you enhance your skills, build your network and bring in some additional cash. My personal favorite is the jewelry business (i.e. Premier Designs, Lea Sophia, etc.). I happen to love jewelry and find these types of businesses to be so much fun. In addition to having fun, you can enhance your sales, customer service, communication, organization, and planning skills – skills that employers will certainly value. And, you never know, that side hustle could eventually become your full-time hustle!
Take a class. When all else fails, taking a class or enrolling in a degree or non-degree program can be a great way to buy time during unemployment and to build skills that will enhance your marketability. It’s the perfect explanation during a significant unemployment gap. However, it’s not acceptable for students to be couch potatoes either. You still need to be able to show that you’ve been making good use of your time and building those skills that will add value to an organization.