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How to stay productive when you're in-between jobs

By Alison Rodericks

Are you in-between jobs at the moment – either due to a redundancy, a career break to raise a family, or because you want to change careers? If you’re plagued by anxiety, pressure and self-doubt, you’re not alone. Studies reveal that  

Very often, the job-hunting scenario gets so overwhelming, you push it aside to avoid the stress it brings. Picture this: You start browsing job-seeking websites, but get side-tracked by a funny cat video on YouTube. 

Before you know it, it’s 2AM and you haven’t even submitted one job application. Not. A. Single. One. Here’s how you move away from procrastination towards productivity.

Best things to do when you're in-between jobs

  1. Create structure.
  2. Network, network, network.
  3. Update your resume.
  4. Re-asses your career choice.
  5. Take a break.
  6. Seek help.
  7. Learn something new.

1. Create structure.

structure concept

The uncertainty associated with job searching can makes us feel overwhelmed. We are used to structure in our daily lives and unemployment throws us out of routine. 

Take back the control by creating a daily schedule while job searching and chart your progress. 

Break down your day into smaller, more manageable parts: an hour for making phone calls and networking, an hour to update your resume, an hour to exercise.

With every task you tick off on your To-Do list, you’ll feel more in control of your situation. The more organised you are, the less likely you’ll feel burnout from your job search.

2. Network, network, network.

networking concept

Now is not the time to feel shy and reach out to any and every contact in your phone’s address book. Let family, friends and old colleagues know you are back on the job market and are looking for a new position. 

Expand your social network, both online and in the real world. 
Attend networking events such as conferences or seminars for an opportunity to meet market leaders, get to know more people in the industry and get career advice. Remember, it’s often not what you know, but who you know that gets you a job. 

3. Update your resume.

woman waiting for interview holding resume

It’s time to bring up that old resume and resurrect your credentials. There’s no need to hide the fact that you’re on a career break, but don’t overemphasise it either. 

Put a positive spin on it by highlighting the transferable skills and volunteer work you have done during this time off. Avoid unnecessary information that might hamper your chances of an interview and emphasise your value. 

Don’t forget the all-important cover letter either. Read up on all news reports and trends in your chosen field to keep abreast of industrial developments.

4. Re-asses your career choice.

man with glasses thinking

Have you always had a passion to do something but were too afraid to pursue it? Perhaps you took the first job you got and stuck with it for years. 

Use this opportunity to figure out if you’re on the right career path. Seek help from a career counsellor. Turn a hobby into a new career. Enrol in a course.

5. Take a break.

business man taking a break at beach

Perhaps this career break is a chance to get much-needed time to rest and revive, both mentally and physically. Travel. Do volunteer work. Learn something new. Reconnect with old friends. Give yourself permission to relax and go easy on yourself. ‘

Take stock of your life and take care of your wellbeing. See what’s missing and what areas need your attention. Perhaps your family or your health need more focus. Use this break to figure out your priorities

6. Seek help.

helping hand concept

Job hunting can be fraught with fears and challenges. It helps to have a friendly shoulder to lean on in these tough times – an old friend, a family member, or even a therapist is very helpful when it comes to unburdening your woes and getting their advice. 

7. Learn something new.

woman studying at cafe

Let’s face it, when we’re working full-time, there’s no time to think, let alone take up a hobby. But with time on your hands, you can do precisely that. Learn a new skill (a language, a musical instrument, a craft), volunteer your time at a charitable organisation that aligns closely with your likes (sustainability, homelessness, women’s health). 

An evening class or a stint at a not-for-profit organisation adds value to your resume. Now’s the time to do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time before. 

Do you need help you with your job hunt?

Upskilled’s SkillsTalk blog is the perfect place to get all the information you need to help with your job search. From resume writing tips and examining new job trends to preparing for the next interview, we’ve got it all covered.  

Upskilled also offers a range of online courses to give your career the edge it needs. Browse our range of courses here

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