How to Keep Busy When You’re Unemployed

Whether you lost your job, quit, or are looking for something new, the unemployment gap can be a scary thing. In changing economies and career fields, many young careerists are unsure of next steps. It may feel like the end of the world, but seriously, don’t panic. In fact, it may be a fresh start for something even better. During this time of transition, we at YCB agree that doing absolutely nothing is probably the worst thing you could do during your time of unemployment.

Here are six ways to keep busy during that time.

1. Shadow as an assistant

Just because you’re unemployed for the time being doesn’t mean there isn’t work out there! Now’s the perfect time to take risks and try something you’ve always wanted for your dream career. Say you’ve been working in one field but really want to switch to fashion. Find a wardrobe stylist you admire and ask if you could tag along for a shoot or help out in any way possible. There are many ways to go about it, so that’s just one. Even if you assist someone just a few times, or even for free, you’re still building a good work ethic. You may just very well impress the person you’re shadowing, leading to an opportunity you never thought possible.

2. Work on your side hustle

Maybe you’ve been working on a side project that never had a chance to truly take off. Being an Airbnb host, hosting a table at the craft market, selling a product in your spare time, even blog writing are all side gigs that are anything but a waste during your time of unemployment. There’s opportunity here for starting your own business, meeting new people outside of your career setting, even having published materials which could be topics of conversation at your next job interview. Not to mention, you’re still making some money while you’re at it!

3. Contact a hiring agency

If you’re looking to get placed sooner than later, get in touch with a staffing agency or similar. These agencies can be a world of help for finding work for quality candidates. In some case, they can be more effective than popular online recruiting tools (which so many job seekers use.) Think of the staffing agent as your personal rep for your next career move. It’s what they do. Best of all? There’s little to no fee for you in most cases. Just remember to stick to a few firms, and let each know your goals so that you don’t duplicate efforts.

4. Learn a new language

In addition to volunteering and other side gigs, learning a new language is tremendously helpful both for your career and in general. Becoming proficient in a language that’s needed in your field will definitely put you above the pack when the time comes to getting hired for a new position. In some cases, employers will go with a candidate who is bilingual, especially if two applicants are equal in qualifcations. We’ve seen it happen many times. Rien perdu. Nada se pierde. There is nothing lost in learning a new language. Ever.

6. Travel

If there’s one thing most careerists wish they had more of, we’re willing to bet it’s time spent travelling. Sure, having a job is wonderful. But so is traveling, right? If you have the means and ambition, then maybe now’s the time to take that hiatus and travel the globe. In fact, many company leaders value time abroad, as they too have learned life lessons that can only come from travelling. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with people, share stories and show that you’re resourceful enough to trek into the unknown.

Look at it this way: so many people find themselves between jobs, and a lot of employers are becoming more and more understanding of resume gaps. Everyone is capable of doing something, and that’s what a future employer will hopefully see. And who knows? You may even find yourself as that future employer.

Sarah Arrazola

Sarah Arrazola is a communications professional in Miami, Fla. Her passions focus on Latin American issues, fine art and the digital age. In her spare time she enjoys aerial silks and traveling. As a young professional with experience in the PR industry, she's excited to share her thoughts with you on Your Coffee Break. Follow her on Twitter @sarah_arrazola