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The secret behind a good unemployment period

1. Listen to yourself

Most of us have acted from the philosophy “I’ll do it my own way” as a child. That’s because humans have a special need for autonomy and independence. Find your inner child and use it actively in your job search process. Do it your own way and keep motivated.

The first time as unemployed might feel like when you started at your new study: A lot of good people ready to help you with conversations, good advice, workshops, and a lot of other things. All the opportunities might have felt overwhelming, but you figured it out along the way. Draw on that while you’re unemployed.

Maybe you had some good experiences with talking to other people about your thoughts, maybe you found a special structure on your day? One way or the other, you found YOUR way and the message is very simple: If you act out of personal interests and values, you are more likely to feel motivated.

Start by thinking back on how you found your way in your everyday. If it felt right then, how can you transfer that to your new situation? Maybe you were used to evaluating your writing process from paragraphs rather than the finished work. Your advisor might tell you to work with performance goals (3 application a day), but you know that activity goals (3 hours a day) works best for you. It’s okay to be stubborn and insist that you do it your own way. Then you’re already on your way to an independent and more motivating process as unemployed.


2. Take advantage of the time to become better – and learn new things

What have you always dreamt of doing if you just had the time? Now is your opportunity to do it.

Find the balance between professional and personal interests. If you build your day solely around your identity as unemployed, you don’t maintain your other potential. It will give you less energy to get up in the morning, a better argument to snooze that extra hour, and makes you feel less motivated. So, go for it.

You are no longer a student – but that doesn’t mean that you can’t stay updated on your subject knowledge or learn new competences. We all need a feeling of being competent that makes us seek out new opportunities that match our potential. That might be why you started studying back then – and why you kept on going.

In the transition from student to unemployed, many people experience that it’s difficult to evolve or maintain. You no longer attend lectures, classes, group work, etc. and it’s much more up to you how to cultivate your professional competence and what you’re good at. That can be hard.

But it also means that suddenly there’s time to embark on some of the projects that you didn’t have time for as a student. That might be volunteer work, an internship, or practicing a new sport. It might also be finishing the book that’s been on the shelf for years, try designing your own webpage, or learning to knit. It might not sound very academic or professional, but it’s an opportunity to practice your competences – or learn new ones.

Jump into projects that you have delayed and look for opportunities to learn new. Is the tennis club’s webpage a mess? Ask if you can work on that. Doesn’t your new knitting project need to be shared with your followers on social media? I think so.

There are many opportunities to evolve and get better. Start a blog, podcast, or a series of articles on LinkedIn about what interests you.


3. Cultivate your new and old relations

It’s important to be a part of a community. A good relation gives you a haven and an opportunity to build your new identity – a place that YOU’RE a part of and that YOU belong. It will make you feel more motivated and your daily life won’t just revolve around job searching.

We all have a need to be a part of meaningful and close relations, and luckily for you, opportunity awaits. You are likely in the middle of a transitional phase, where your connection to certain people naturally “fades” when you’re no longer a part of the party planning committee, student job, or you don’t see your classmates as often.

For some people, the transition will happen very naturally, while others need a little time to accept and adjust. That’s perfectly fine. Help yourself find your way by getting an overview of the activities and communities you might become a part of.

Maybe you want to spend more time with your family and close friends that you didn’t have the time for while you were studying. Maybe you can finally begin that new sport you’ve been eying out, host board game nights, or find new relations through volunteer work. Maybe you want to start a coffee club with the other people at the unemployment fund. Get inspiration on how to build new relations - and nurse old ones.


4. Structure your day

Structuring your day will help you feel motivated and keep you from falling into a trap of feeling like you must spend every waking hour looking for a job.

As a student, you might be used to structuring your weekdays with a lot of independent studying around classes. It’s not much different from being unemployed, other than that you might have even more time at your disposal.

Help yourself from falling into a swamp where everything – including your identity – is about being unemployed. The goal is to get a job, so it can quickly feel like you need to spend all your time reaching that goal. And if you get rejection upon rejection, that can be really tough.

Your unemployment period should not feel like that. It can be tough not knowing when it will end, but that doesn’t mean that your unemployment period has to be horrible. Just as studying was your previous “job,” being unemployed is your new one. It might help seeing it that way. Most jobs have certain working hours – you seldomly spend all your time working. You’re not supposed to do that now wither.

Make a weekly schedule

A useful tool to not letting unemployment take over your life, is making a weekly schedule where you put in tasks, fitness, lunch, and free time. You simply need to structure your day – and stick to the schedule, of course.

Examples of what you can add to your weekly schedule:
  • Finding jobs at job sites
  • Doing research on companies
  • Calling companies with questions or regarding unsolicited job search
  • Writing applications and proofreading
  • Finding companies to apply unsolicited at, e.g. on job databases
  • Visiting companies with applications
  • Coffee/network meetings
  • Preparing your pitch
  • Meetings at the job center and unemployment fund
  • Courses and events
  • Updating and posting on relevant social media, e.g. LinkedIn
  • Maintaining your competences and professional knowledge – keeping updated on the newest knowledge, running the football club’s webpage, making videos or articles for LinkedIn, doing volunteer work, making your own webpage, writing a book, etc. – there are many opportunities!
  • Lunch and short breaks
  • Free time and fitness training

As an example, you can start your day at 8 og after yoga at the gym and continue until 3 p.m. You might start every day by spending 15 minutes on looking through job sites to see if there’s anything new.

You might also choose to spend some hours every Monday looking for jobs and doing research, while spending time Tuesday and Wednesday on calling the companies, writing applications, and targeting your CV. The rest of the week you might spend some time with networking or keeping up with your competences.

After several years of studying, you know how you work well. Do it your way and plan the day so it suits you. But remember breaks during the day and give yourself a pat on the shoulder when you have done a good job. And then remember to take time off.

Download a template to make your weekly schedule

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