Being out of employment over a time and job hunting is a reality most professionals will face at a certain point in their lives. Different people react to this almost inevitable season of their lives in varying ways. Some go into depression. Others immerse themselves in all forms of entertainment or even excessive drinking to escape reality. A few, however, have a natural tendency to be calm and calculated. They turn their period of lack of employment into a soul searching and career improving moment.
During this period, what you do or fail to do may end up determining how long you stay out of job and what happens afterwards. It also impacts on the financial situation for those who don’t have the privilege of having excess savings to sustain them through these unpleasant moments (yes, it is usually advised you set aside up to six months of your average financial upkeep to live on in the event of loss of job).
How do you, then, maximize that period between the time you stop working and when you regain employment?
- Put your house in order. I do not literally mean house, I mean your inner or spiritual amour house. That part of you that sustains and determine your external outlooks. Know that being out of employment is not the end of the word and is just a phase that shall come to pass. Yes, please, mourn if you will but just for a short while. Then, it is time to find strength from within. It is time to find believe and steer yourself again. Take an assessment of what the events of your past job and internalize learning. If you are honestly reflective, there is always something to learn. Thing not to do again; cycle not to repeat; or better ways of handling similar future situations.
- It’s time to brush up or acquire skills. Identify new skills and latent personal attributes that can improve your employability and productivity. Go online, research and sign up on free platforms where you can learn digital marketing, excel, graphics, coding, presentation, communication, writing, baking, cooking, or whatever skills that’s important in your current or aspired career path. Take a personal strength finder test on a paid platform if you can afford it. A similar free test is on www.high5test.com. That new skill may just be the catch for your next job – created by you or offered to you. Going through this process may just open your eyes to things about you that others may be willing to pay for via consultation or part-time engagements. A new business may also be born.
- Make your job search a full time job as soon as you resign or are relieved of your engagement, except if you are taking a recovery break. If your aim is to get back in quickly. Re-activate your subscriptions on www.indeed.com ; www.jobberman.com ; www.myjobmag.com ; www.naijahotjobs.com ; www.jobgurus.ng.com and of other online job platforms. Get active on www.linkedin.com make your profile visible through optimization, post contents that project you positively, engage with others, ask for recommendations and referrals, and apply for jobs daily. Also, optimize your CV and Cover letter to be ATS compliant and relevant to your field of interest. Again, apply daily for openings you are qualified for. Note that you will feel frustrated if you are applying for jobs you’re not qualified for or your CV is not projecting you strongly. Sign up and get linked up with recruitment service providers like eRecruit, Ascentech, Michael Stevens, Lorache or as per relevant in your part of the country.
- Get away from time wasters. Some emotional distractions for a lot of unemployed persons are excessive sleep, entertainment, hanging out with friends, sexual overindulgence and alcoholism aside other mental and emotional opium. Those have never helped anybody interested in bouncing back quickly. Complacency is not same as contentment. Contented people hold their activities in check to ensure they are channeling their lives’ outcome in the desired direction. The only mental and emotional distractions I recommend are healthy books. Get closer to your God, if you have one.
- Gather references from professional network. I have found that my best references come from former bosses. By asking former bosses for written references, I found they highlighted other skills and attributes I thought I wasn’t so good at. Employers find them more credible because they have managed you and can give near accurate analysis of your strengths and weaknesses. Aside Bosses, there must be other senior colleagues in your last and previous place of work that you that you still maintain good relationship with. Network with other professionals and engage them respectfully in your job search. Don’t bore them with calls as if they have jobs stored somewhere. Written relevant professional endorsements are superb attachment as cover letter.
- Earn petty income along the way. You may need it for upkeep during the course of your dry season or as transport fare for the next interview invite. Part time ‘runs’ can keep you running until you are gainfully employed again. Commission selling, day rate jobs, content writing, etc. In Nigeria, if you have been out of work for up to three months, you can access 25% of your Retirement Savings with your pension administrators. Ensure you approach them with evidence of your last disengagement, means of identification and passport photographs. It is unfortunate that there is no such thing as filling for unemployment in Nigeria. Our government has no unemployment support system so it is up to you to find local businesses that may be interested in your services on day rates.
Whatever you do, strive to keep a positive outlook going forward. What goes up must come down is a sure saying. It’s only a season and seasons come and go. See you at the top soon!