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7 Ways to Stay Productive When You’re Unemployed

Unemployment doesn’t have to mean long, monotonous days of sending out resume after resume after resume – nor does it have to mean slipping into a paralyzing, unmotivated funk. In fact, if you spend your unemployed time wisely, you can use this period to take your career to the next level and land an even better job than the one you lost.

We asked entrepreneurs, executives, and hiring professionals for their advice on how to stay productive when you’re unemployed. We received a ton of great suggestions, but these ten were our favorites:

1. Join a Philanthropic Organization or Professional Association

Career downtime is a great opportunity to get involved with a professional association or philanthropic organization, and by “get involved,” I don’t mean become a member and show up at the occasional event. I mean, really get involved. Raise your hand and volunteer.

This has several advantages: It gives you a chance to learn new skills, add some new skills to your resume, and get to know colleagues on a deeper level. People you work with in an organization can send job leads your way, act as references, or even become future managers themselves. I can’t think of any activity that would be of greater benefit to someone who is “between assignments.”

— Jacob Dayan, Partner and Cofounder, Community Tax and Finance Pal

2. Learn a New Computer Skill

Computers, systems, and software change so rapidly that you are losing ground to others if you do nothing to update your tech skills while unemployed. Even nontechnical people can benefit from learning a new computer skill or phone app.

— Steve Silberberg, Owner and Head Guide, Fitpacking

3. Exercise

It’s such an important part of staying productive and will also help keep your mood levels up during a time that could easily get you down. While you may not be sharing your exercise plan with a potential employer, the benefits it will have on your overall mood will certainly translate and be to your benefit when interviewing.

— Michele Mavi, Director of Content Development, Internal Recruiting, Training, Atrium Staffing

4. Become a Mentor or Coach

Discuss how you’ve nurtured and mentored cohorts in your past positions. Mention your leadership skills and give examples of qualitative or quantitative results to prove further your ability to motivate team members.

— Deoné Sulgatti, CEO and Founder, Tengia

5. Start a Blog

The best way of staying productive while unemployed is by publishing online. A blog devoted to your career and specialist area will showcase your knowledge and authority in a way that your LinkedIn profile or resume will not. An authoritative blog built up over the years will clearly show that you are a subject matter expert. It is also likely to lead to connections and a stronger network that will help to avoid unemployment altogether.

— Jason Lavis, Marketing Director, Natural Resource Professionals Ltd.

6. Attend Networking Events

Find events through your college alumni association, industry organizations, and community groups like the local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club. Don’t discount job seeker groups because members are unemployed; a job that’s not right for someone you meet might be perfect for you. While you may not meet someone who offers you a job, you may meet someone who knows someone who will.

— Annette Richmond, Principal, Career Intelligence Resume Writing

7. Get Out of the House

Getting out of your comfortable home space and going to the library or a coffee shop can foster more of an office mentality while you are editing documents and doing online research, making you more productive and less likely to be distracted by housework or other things that you could do around your house.

— Valerie Streif, Senior Advisor, Mentat


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