Hate your job? Unemployment might not seem like an attractive alternative, but it comes with one major upside: more time. With the right game plan, you can take advantage of a temporary pause between jobs to reevaluate and rejuvenate your entire career.
Dean LaTourette, co-author of "Time Off! The Upside to Downtime," observes, "While it can be a scary time, most people who allow themselves a break find that getting laid off or quitting their job ends up being one of the best career moves they ever made."
1. Work Your Network
Sure, you're browsing the job listings every day and applying to positions as they come up. But imagine if you could multiply your efforts a hundredfold. Today's online networking sites not only make it a breeze to let your friends know you're looking for work, they also give you access to your friends' networks. That's an exponential increase in potential employment connections.
Make sure all of your online info is up-to-date and typo-free, re-activate resumes that you may have hidden when you found your last job, and let your friends and colleagues know that you're actively seeking employment.
2. Get an Internship or Volunteer
If you're considering a complete career change, working for free may be your best bet for gaining experience in your desired field. Well-established volunteer and internship programs often include formal training, which is basically like a free education in your new vocation. If you have technical skills or a consulting background, doing pro bono work can be a great way to build your portfolio while contributing to a good cause.
3. Go Back to School
In addition to traditional graduate schools, there are dozens of options for getting job-relevant training year-round. Most major universities offer extension courses for a variety of professional fields including marketing, graphic design, and computer programming. Media Bistro, another valuable resource, offers writing and media courses both online and in six cities across the U.S.
4. Explore Your Hobbies
Ever spent a spare moment at work wishing you could spend more time fishing, painting, cooking, or whatever your passion is? Well consider your wish granted. Unemployment can be a perfect time to explore your personal passions. At worst, you'll get to enjoy yourself, and at best you may find a way to make money doing what you love.
Michelle Goodman, author of the "Anti 9 to 5 Guide," points out that "even if you're not going for investment money, it's helpful to write down the basics of your business plan: how much it will take to break even, the cost of supplies, analysis of your competitors. Putting it on paper makes it hard to be in denial about finances."
Recently the Center for Economic and Policy Research released a report entitled "No Vacation Nation" which revealed that 1 in 4 American workers receive no paid vacation or holidays. Even those lucky employees who get paid time off receive up to 30 days fewer than their European counterparts. So take advantage of your time off and take a well-deserved vacation. If you sublet your apartment or home and choose a cheap destination, you could even end up saving money while you're away.