Unemployment is a reality that millions of Americans face every day. Unfortunately, this trend doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, so the unemployed have to find a way to deal with a difficult situation. Whether it’s finding an interim job, collecting unemployment benefits or hitting the job fairs, there are many ways to get by.
The most obvious thing to do when you find yourself unemployed is to apply for benefits. This is not a permanent solution, however. While unemployment benefits may buy some time, the longer you are out of the workforce, the harder it is to get back in on two fronts.
First, the longer the gap in employment, the less appealing your resume looks. Long term unemployment erodes valuable skills, and employers know that. If you find yourself out of work for more than six months, it may help to find a way to brush up on your skill set. Volunteer work can be a great way to show prospective employers (and yourself) that you are working hard at being productive. Taking classes or teaching yourself new skills can not only show that you are bettering yourself, but also widen the pool of jobs you qualify for. There is also always the option of starting your own business. This is extremely difficult to do, and not for everyone. However, if you have a good idea and a means to get it off the ground, this is a perfect time to just go for it. At the very least, the attempt will show ambition.
The second pitfall of long term unemployment is complacency. The longer you are out of a job, the easier it is to simply accept it. Discouraged workers often simply stop looking. In April 2012, 968,000 Americans reported stopping their job search because of discouragement. Keep in mind, you can’t tell employers you started looking for work again because your unemployment benefits ran out. So don’t wait until the last minute to try and get back in the labor pool. Searching for employment is a job in and of itself, so make sure to set a schedule for it. Treat it like a full time job: set an alarm, search for a job a certain amount of time each day and keep at it.