Surviving Your Unemployment Phase

Whether you are switching from your old job to a new job, or still searching for your first job, we can all agree that unemployment is hard. I, personally, had a hard time getting through it while I was looking for my first real job after I graduated from college.

Rewriting cover letter, fixing CV again and again, applying for god-knows-how-many jobs, and waiting for HR’s response (and the truth is: sometimes they don’t reply at all) are draining all of energy and it can affect our mental health if we are not being careful about it.

Applying jobs every day is important, but sometimes we forget that we need to take care of our mental health. Here are the things I learned (and still learning along the way) to keep ourselves sane in the inevitable unemployment phase:

#1 Create a daily schedule

It is one thing that my therapist asked me to do when I was unemployed and depressed: create a schedule of your activities every single day. When you don’t have a job and don’t really have things to do in daily basis, it is very easy for time to slip by. You could wake up at 10am, spend the entire day on bed watching Netflix, and BAM! suddenly it’s 6pm.

By creating your own schedule, you create a time for you to wake up each day. After waking up, you can give yourself time to meditate/work out. Then, you can start applying for jobs until lunch. Build a schedule that fits your preference and keep it detailed. Creating a schedule can give you sense of purpose and help you being productive each day.

#2 Don’t isolate yourself

Being unemployed is somewhat relaxing for my introvert side because I don’t have to socialize with other people every single time and can bury myself in with my own world. The isolation is comforting but it’s dangerous when it’s done in huge amount. At first, the isolation started with me busy doing my own thing and finding job. Little did I know, I started to avoid hanging out with my friends because I haven’t got any job. I felt inferior, and keep comparing myself to my friends who already make their own money. It’s common to feel ashamed of not having job, but it’s important for you to talk about it and receive support from your loved ones. Opening up about your struggle is not only therapeutic for you, but it also creates opportunity for others to help you. Who knows, the ones who you talk to can help you to get projects, networking, or even permanent jobs!

#3 Time for you to explore about yourself

A friend of mine once told me, “Being unemployed means you have a lot of time on your hands and enjoy your time!”. While I found this advice not helpful for my mental state that time, but somehow she was right. When you have jobs, you have endless responsibilities that sometimes you cannot get yourself out.

Do you have things on your bucket list that you have been wanting to tick off? Now it’s time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. You can take cooking class, yoga class, or whatever you have always wanted to learn! These activities will help you to get to know yourself even more and perhaps you can add more skills on your CV! You can also pack your bags and travel in budget. With no responsibilities and meetings you have when you are working, you can just escape the reality for a second.
But don’t forget to keep searching and applying for jobs. It may be fun escaping reality, but you have to keep yourself responsible.

#4 Get some freelance jobs

It’s really important to keep yourself busy while looking for jobs. While waiting for a call for interview, you can offer your skills to help others in freelancing jobs. For me, it’s translating documents or writing for their website or their instagram captions. For you, it could be anything: designing websites, logos, or even offer consultation for their social medias! At this day of age, you can get money from anything. Not only it’s productive, it also gives you experiences. You can show off your experiences in your CV or portfolio and it actually gives you a point plus when you are applying for full-time jobs.

If you find a hard time to go freelance, you can always volunteer or join a community that you love. By volunteering and joining community, you can gain experiences and networking. Who knows, perhaps your future employer is volunteering with you right now!

#5 Don’t compare your journey to others

This one is important. Life is not a race. Let me repeat, life is not a race. You may scroll into your instagram stories and see your friends, who graduated with you, are having the best time of their work life. Perhaps it makes you feel small; because they are out there building their career but you are still struggling to get jobs. My best friend keeps reminding me that life is not a race and whatever people put on their social media, most likely they only put the greatest highlight of their life, rarely their behind the scene and worst moments. Until this day, I keep reminding myself about that.
Quoting the great Lin-Manuel Miranda,

“Gmorning. Their pace is not your pace. Their pace is not your pace. Their pace is not your pace. Be patient with yourself. Find your pace.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter

Last but not least, please keep this in mind that your unemployment does not define who you are. You have a personal value other than your career. It may seems like a dead-end journey, but it’s not. The perfect job for you is right in the corner, you just have to take your time and keep going. And whatever you are struggling with right now, everything is temporary and you are going to be alright.