If you’re unemployed, know this: you are not alone. For one reason or another, most people will find themselves without a job at some point in their lives. Of course, knowing that doesn’t make joblessness any easier. Whether you got laid off, left voluntarily or still haven’t found the right opportunity post-graduation, dealing with a lack of employment (and, thereby, a lack of funds) can be stressful and demoralizing.
But there is a legitimate silver lining. Your job-free status gives you something that your 9-to-5 peers only dream of: TIME. Don’t squander it. Use it as efficiently as possible, and you may just end up locking down the ideal position.
Here are six ways you can make the most of your time between jobs.
Revamp your resumes and cover letters
Notice the plural form of both “resumes” and “cover letters.” It’s rare that any job search stays on one singular path; you may be open to a couple different types of positions, or the same type of position within different industries. Use your time to not only update your application materials, but also generate multiple versions that are tailored to different types of openings.
Craft writing samples
Whether writing samples are an official part of a job application or not, it’s a good idea to have a few well-written pieces on-hand, especially if you’re searching for a job in communications. Even if a hiring manager doesn’t request them, you can post them to a personal blog or LinkedIn account. You can write op-eds, offer advice, cover industry trends, review new products – it almost doesn’t matter what you write as long as your articles are well-crafted, interesting and useful. It’s fine to take a strong position on a polarizing topic, but steer clear of ranting, complaining or anything that could be considered disrespectful.
Not for pleasure, but for information. Set aside an hour or so every day to read material like a business best-seller, a book on leadership or the newspaper. Why? Reading for information will stretch and refine your overall perspective, which will only benefit your job search efforts. Plus, you never know what kind of information will prove to be helpful in interviews with prospective employers.
Take an online course
Now is the perfect time to gain a new skill or brush up on an existing one. Tech skills like coding and user experience are increasingly attractive to hiring managers, so consider registering for an online course with companies like General Assembly, Lynda or Skillcrush. Even if your new skill isn’t directly applicable to the positions for which you apply, having a well-rounded resume can still increase your chances of landing an interview.
Schedule breakfast and coffee meetings
After a couple weeks of unemployment, it’s not uncommon to slip into hermit mode. If you haven’t changed out of your pajama pants or seen un-refracted daylight in 48 hours, it’s time to get out and do some networking. Catch up with old colleagues or schedule some informational interviews. Breakfast meetings and mid-day coffee chats are good for a couple reasons. First, they get you out of the house early and set the tone for a productive day. Second, unlike happy hour or dinner, they don’t cut into the other person’s precious out-of-office time.
Learn to cook
This tip seems a little random, but trust us – use this extra time to learn to cook. Nothing will do a number on your fixed budget like ordering out every night. Plus, typical take-out fare is rarely healthy. Get in the routine of preparing your own meals now, and it will be much easier to maintain this good-for-you (and your wallet) habit when you’re back to work.
Jenessa Connor is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and young adult author. If you don’t find her in front of her computer, check the local movie theaters and restaurants, Prospect Park or the gym at CrossFit 718.