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5 Ways to Make the Most of Unemployment

By: Rusty Gates, Vanderbloemen Search Group

Whether it is planned or unexpected, unemployment of any kind can lead to a difficult season of life. The pressure to pay bills and support a family along with the uncertainty of the job search process can make anyone lose a few hairs. But this time doesn’t have to feel like it's time wasted; rather, it can be a time of transformation and preparation for what is coming next.

Arnold van Gennep, a French ethnographer (studier of people & cultures), is well known for his coining of the term “liminality” and his extensive writing concerning the concept of liminal space. According to Van Gennep, liminal space is the disorienting experience of transition between two meaningful events. When someone enters into liminal space, he writes, they stand at the threshold of transformation between who they were and who they are becoming, which then provides the opportunity to shape and direct the person they want to become.

In other words, it is during the times of disorientation, uncertainty, and transition that we are best able to make significant changes in our lives for the better. However, in order to do this, we must first see liminal spaces as opportunities rather than difficult times we need to avoid or escape.

Below are 5 ways to make the most of unemployment, viewing the transition as an opportunity to grow in preparation for the season ahead.

1. Expand your knowledge base.

One of the gifts of unemployment is usually an increase in unscheduled time. While there might be a strong temptation to use this new-found free time to catch up on sleep or finally finish watching that show on Netflix, a much better use of that time is expanding your knowledge base. You can do this by reading articles, books, or blog posts relevant to your personal and professional development. Consider attending relevant conferences if your situation allows it. Remember, this season can be one of extreme growth, learning, and positive change.

2. Make some new friends and network.

It often can seem difficult to meet to new people and make connections when you’re out of the workspace and spending more time at home. However, if you allow it, unemployment can provide the opportunity to broaden your network. Start by talking to your family and friends about what it is that you want to do or where you want to work to see if they know anyone that might have connections in that field/company. If they do, ask them if they wouldn’t mind connecting you or giving you their contact information if they’re comfortable doing so.

Once the connection is made, offer to take the person to lunch (or coffee if funds are tight). This will give you the chance to ask them about what is desirable in a candidate trying to get into that line of work, as well as give you the chance to make a friend in a world where knowing someone can make all the difference. Most times these meetings can provide dividends for years to come if you take the initiative to pursue them!

3. Get into a good rhythm.

Perhaps one of the most detrimental side effects of unemployment is the lack of structure that comes without work hours. Furthermore, without the accountability of a supervisor, it is just too easy to spend hours scrolling through Facebook, watching YouTube videos, or checking fantasy football scores, which in turn can cause the days to bleed together. One of the best disciplines anyone can pursue (regardless of work situation) is to make a schedule and stick to it. Plan the times when you are going to work on your resume and send out applications, while also planning time to be in prayer, be active, and spend with the people you love.

Studies have shown that the human brain is very inefficient when multitasking as opposed to when it is focusing on a single task at a time. That said, if you are completely without structure, start out by making a to do list for the next day before you go to bed. After that, try scheduling your tasks a week out and reward yourself when you follow your calendar. This should help you enjoy your free time without feeling like you “ought to be looking for work,” which will reduce stress, make you happier, and in turn make you a better candidate.           

4. Find a constructive hobby and have fun.

While finding work might be the highest item on your priority list, it shouldn’t be the only thing on the list. If you are able to make a schedule, you should definitely have time scheduled to do things that you enjoy. That can definitely be something like going to the movies, but an even better use of that time is finding a constructive hobby where you learn, hone, or develop skills that you don’t normally use.

Whether it is knitting, wood carving, running, or gardening, pursing these hobbies will not only give you something enjoyable to do with your time, but they will also have untold benefits with time. These kinds of hobbies reduce stress, challenge you to get better at something, and can give you something new to talk about with others. All of these things work towards self-betterment, and as a bonus, you never know when your potential boss might share that same hobby!

5. Get outside and stay healthy.

Finally, people are holistic beings, which means that when one aspect of your life is out of order, the rest of your life will be affected in turn. A part of the reason why unemployment can be so difficult is because you no longer have something demanding that you get out of the house and keep moving. One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to find a way to work out and stay fit. Staying active can not only improve your health, but it can also reduce stress and improve your mood. What better time to develop a strong habit of working out than when you have a flexible schedule?

Remember, this time in your life is a chance to make good habits that will produce a better life style in whatever you do. It’s a time where, with God’s guidance and help, you’re able to shape and direct the person you want to become. Don’t waste this significant time in your life.

What other ways have you found to make the best of unemployment?



This article was provided by our church executive search partner, Vanderbloemen Search Group. To learn more about Vanderbloemen Search Group's recruiting services and how they can help you fill your open position, click here. To read more insightful articles on Vanderbloemen's blog, click here.

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