How to Be Productive When You’re Unemployed

July 12, 2019 • Rehack Team


Do you know what to do when unemployed? Whether you were fired or whether you were laid off due to cutbacks, no doubt you’re reeling internally and trying to find a new direction in a world suddenly gone topsy-turvy. Once the initial shock wears off and ennui sets in, you’ll need to know what things to do when unemployed and bored in order to keep your productivity high.

Obviously, you know you need to find new work, and if you’re one of the millions of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, you may need to do so stat. Here’s how to be productive when you’re unemployed so you can find a new gig quickly.

How Do You Stay Busy When Unemployed?

It’s tempting to hide under the covers, binge-watch “Orange Is the New Black” and ignore your plight. But doing so hardly helps you find new employment. Give yourself two or three days to recover from the shock, then get to work.

Depending on where you live (the amount of unemployment you receive depends on your state of residence) and your personal financial situation, you may have powerful extrinsic motivation to find new work quickly. The recent furlough of federal workers under the Trump administration demonstrated the vast number of U.S. citizens who find losing only one paycheck problematic.

Try to take some time, even if only a morning or afternoon, to reflect on what kind of work you truly desire. If you were feeling burnout at your previous job due to finding your work meaningless, a job loss is a perfect time to switch careers.

Think about what you used to play as when you were a child. Maybe you’ve dreamed of becoming a teacher. If you lack a certificate but have a bachelor’s degree, consider applying for an online or in-person tutoring position. Always fantasized about working with animals? Now is the time to explore a potential career as a veterinary assistant.

Soul-searching definitely makes the list of things to do when unemployed and bored. But how to be productive and work toward getting that new dream job?

How Do You Be Productive When You Don’t Have a Job?

Nearly every job seeker with a computer knows how to upload a resume to a job site and begin sending applications. But in answer to the question, “What to do when unemployed,” more productive means of finding new work exist.

Take every opportunity to attend networking events in the field you wish to apply. Also, call up your posse and let them know you’re looking for work. While you may feel embarrassed to admit you’re unemployed, this is the best way to find out about insider opportunities friends may know about in their fields.

Looking for work is a full-time job, so make yourself a schedule each Sunday for the week ahead. Tackle high-priority activities such as filling out applications for the jobs which interest you most first on your schedule each day. Reserve afternoons or your least productive hours for sending thank you notes, making phone calls and researching new opportunities.

Prepare and rehearse an elevator pitch so you have an instant speech for yourself ready if you come across a prospective employer unexpectedly. Prepare a job interview ready bag full of resumes, business cards, hand sanitizer and breath mints to avoid arriving unprepared. You’ll have materials ready to go if you meet someone who is looking for staff by chance.

Above all, avoid falling into despair and unhealthy habits. Keep up your exercise routine and continue meal planning even if you need to adjust the menu slightly to account for the loss in income. Take a pass on using alcohol, nicotine or other drugs to dull the pain of losing your job — impairment makes it tougher to find a new post.

Being Unemployed Doesn’t Mean Being Unproductive

Job loss can cause significant distress, but try to look at this as an opportunity to seek something more in line with your passions. By remaining productive while you’re unemployed, you improve your chances of finding work more quickly.