Stop watching “Law & Order: SVU,” put on your pants, and shave your face. You are in-between jobs not on an extended holiday. Just because you’re only seen by your dog does not mean that job-hunting from home is your time to slack off.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier this month
that long-term unemployment (27 weeks and over) remains above 40 percent. The BLS also stated that the average length of unemployment hovers at more than 40 weeks. That’s probably not what you want to hear, especially if you just left or lost your job.
Many days you will neither network nor go for interview. Most of your time spent searching for your next opportunity will involve you, your desk, and your computer. It’s a tedious cycle of researching opportunities and cyber-stalking hiring managers and potential colleagues to address your cover letters. It’s worse than all those years spent sitting in your cubicle next to that toxic colleague.
The temptations for distraction surround you now that your daily routine has been disrupted. You need to keep to a schedule if you are going to beat-out the next candidate. Here are a few simple and effective ways to keep your mind focused day-in, day-out.
1. Don’t sleep in
Keep your schedule. There’s no need to change your alarm—you still have a full day of job-hunting ahead. Hop in the shower to shake off the cobwebs from a good night’s sleep.
2. Don’t grow a “job hunter” beard
Continue to shave your face, wax your legs, or pluck your eyebrows. You never know when you might bump in to a former colleague or future employer. Keep yourself groomed and ready to land your next job opportunity.
3. Don’t become a hermit
Step outside and grab the newspaper or a cup of coffee. If you look like an extra from “The Descent
” you need some sun. It’ll help put a little hop in your step and boost your energy when you return to your desk.
4. Ditch the robe
You’ll be surprised by how much wearing pants, as opposed to a robe or shorts, will help you feel more professional feeling more professional and focused. It’s about keeping your head from thinking you’re on vacation.
5. Don’t litter
Keep your workspace tidy and free from distractions. Don’t let the newspapers pile up alongside your coffee mugs.
6. Don’t skip breakfast … or lunch … or dinner
Sure, we all worked hard at our last job, skipping lunch, downing energy drinks, and generally burning the candle at both ends. Now that you’re in between jobs you have time to clean the engine, so to speak. Reboot your system by making time for healthy meals. You’ll have plenty of time to starve at your next job.
7. Don’t miss an appointment
Keep a calendar and update it regularly, just as you would at your job. Landing your next job takes planning and structure. Scheduling time for drafting cover letters, tweaking your resumé, and conducting online research prevents the day from slipping away.
8. Don’t watch TV shows that start with “The Late…”
Even if you have a water cooler at home no one is there to share in that topical joke from the night before. Get some sleep. Tomorrow is another day and hopefully it will be the last one you spend unemployed.
Brian Adams consults with nonprofits, including Komera Project, regarding communications strategy. Brian was previously senior director of communications at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and the head of media and community relations for the MSPCA-Angell. A version of this story first appeared on the author's blog.