How to Survive Being Unemployed

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In a difficult job market, you may have a tough time finding a job. Whether you've just graduated, were recently laid off, or you are ready to change jobs, looking for a new job – or being unemployed – can be difficult.

But it's important to keep things in perspective as you continue your job hunt. Read on for our top tips on how to deal with being unemployed.

Make Finding a Job Your First Priority

First, you should make finding a job your top priority. It's important to set goals daily, weekly, and monthly. For example, you can set a goal of applying to five jobs per week and setting up one networking coffee date per month. That way, you can stay on task even if you are not employed in a traditional workplace.

It can be discouraging if you are applying to jobs and not getting any offers. In this case, you may want to have someone look over your resume, and consider getting help with the interview process.

Also, don't underestimate the importance of networking. Go to events or job fairs in your city, or email old bosses or others in your field to meet for coffee or for an informational interview. Be sure to use every connection you possibly can.

Other tips to consider when searching for a job:

Widen Your Search

You may need to widen your job search to include jobs outside your preferred field or in other cities. For example, you may need to consider applying to jobs that are not in your preferred city or consider working in a rural area or moving across the country in order to find a job.

It's also wise to take advantage of your network when searching for a job. Ask for help from your friends, family, and acquaintances. If you hear of an opening at a company, try to find someone who works there that can reach out and make a connection for you.

Try the below when widening your job search:

  • Consider looking in other geographic locations
  • Branch out in your field for other options
  • Use your network to find jobs that you may be qualified for.

Expand Your Qualifications

If you can't find a job, you may be applying to jobs that are underqualified for. Remedy this by taking on freelance work, an internship, or a part-time position in your preferred field. This can open doors to full-time work.

Even if they do not directly lead to a job, it will give you more experience to include on your resume. Additionally, you may also consider getting additional certifications in your career field if possible.

You should also comb through your personal history and make sure that there isn't an extenuating circumstance that is preventing you from getting a job, such as poor credit history.

Read on for more tips on what to do if you are underqualified for a job:

  • Seek out additional certifications in your field
  • Look at part-time work to gain real job experience in your field
  • If you are freelancing, ask clients if they will be references for you

Work Your Plan B

If you cannot find a job you need to have a plan to fall back on. There is no reason not to be working, especially if you do not have unemployment benefits because you are a recent graduate.

There are always part-time jobs available. The pay may be low, and the hours not that great but it is better than not making any money at all. A job with evening or nighttime hours will leave your day free so that you can continue to look for work.

Waiting tables, delivering pizzas, working at UPS or a similar company or stocking shelves are all options that pay well and can help tide you over while you can continue to look for work.

Other tips to consider when you are unemployed:

  • Work a part-time job while you are unemployed
  • A job with nighttime or weekend hours might be preferable, so you have time during the day to look for work.
  • Don't get discouraged.

Consider Your Expenses

Finally, you should consider your expenses to avoid running up debt while you are looking for a job. You may want to reconsider your living arrangements if you are unemployed – consider moving back in with your parents or getting roommates.

While moving back home or getting roommates may not be ideal, it can prevent you from running out of money and going into debt while you are unemployed. In addition, you should also keep your expenses as low as possible. Do not spend tons on new clothes or video games. You can do this once you find a job.

Other tips to survive unemployment:

  • Stick to a budget while you are looking for a job.
  • Be creative in finding ways to cut back on your expenses.
  • Consider selling items to avoid going back into debt.

Be Cautious About Heading Back to School

Many recent graduates are considering attending graduate school in the hopes that the job market will be better when they graduate with an advanced degree.

If you are considering doing this you should carefully consider the cost of the degree. Make sure the cost will be worth it, meaning it will increase your salary exponentially. You should also avoid accumulating any more debt because there is no guarantee that the market will improve a great deal in the next two or three years.

If you are unemployed and considering going back to school:

  • Make sure that there are jobs in the field you are studying.
  • Check the average salary for a master's degree in your field and make sure it is worth it.
  • Look for scholarships and assistantships to help pay for graduate school.

Updated by Rachel Morgan Cautero.