Unemployment can suck. Here’s a practical unemployment guide, from my experiences recently – don’t forget to think about your mental health!
After mentioning my unemployment on instagram a month or so ago, I’m finally sharing this post and a complimentary IGTV after you all said you’d like to see both.
Unemployment can be really hard to talk about
Although I maintain authenticity as much as possible, I’m sure you can imagine talking about being unemployed hasn’t been my most favourite topic to share publicly. That is, until more recently as my confidence has grown a bit and I felt it was important to share my experiences for the benefit of others.
Since losing my original freelance work in March thanks to ‘you know what’, I’ve been at home working out my next steps – I wasn’t sure if it was better to apply for full time jobs or look for new clients. I’ve decided to focus on the latter!
As I have been living at my parents house, I’ve be very fortunate not to have to worry about household bills. I’m obviously not a finance expert so rather than discuss the perils of having no money, I’m sharing some ideas around how to keeping sane, staying motivated and considering your mental health. That said, despite me doing these things, there’s been SO MANY tears, days on the couch and low confidence / motivation too.
If any of these ideas help just one person then that would be awesome. Please do let me know of your own experiences and ideas and if you need to chat, my email / DMs are always open!
Check your benefit entitlements
I’ve never done this before, and it felt weird as someone who has pretty much been employed since age 16 to consider it. The processes for receiving Universal Credit & Job Seekers allowance here in the UK has been slightly different during lock down, as in-person appointments are not available. I’m not sure how things will change as life starts to resume to a bit more normality.
It is relatively straight forward to apply for, but usually takes at least a month to get your hands on some cash. Here’s a useful independent article which has more details.
Keep a ‘normal’ routine. Get up at a similar time during the week as you would if you were working. Spend the weekdays doing tasks, whether that’s cleaning, learning, applying for new jobs, tidying at home – whatever works for you.
Then give yourself the weekend off. This helps to stop the days running into one long day, and then when you get work it won’t be such a shock to go back to working 5 days a week!
So important, release those endorphins with a walk, run, online class from your phone, a YouTube video – whatever you prefer. But just keep your body moving. It can really make a difference to your mind on a bad day!
(I forgot to include this one on the video)
Boring I know, but necessary. Ensure that you’re registered with a recruiter or two, that you’ve updated your CV and you’ve got log ins for all our favourite job search sites (indeed, reed, etc).
Ensure you personalise each cover letter to avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach to applying, it won’t go unnoticed
Development / Learning
Learn something new. I LOVE online learning and last summer I completed a few ‘Future Learn’ courses on topics I had never learned much about before. During lockdown, many companies are offering more and more accessible learning too – try the Open University and Harvard for free courses.
It’s a great way to keep busy on weekdays and feel like you’ve achieved something. Plus you might find a brand new area of interest and get qualification you haven’t had time to work on before.
Find local, temp jobs
There are literally millions of Facebook groups out there, ‘Wirral Jobs’ was my local job group. Keep an eye on postings there for local job opportunities and temporary work that can help keep you going. I have had a few hours doing a paid delivery job recently, which has kept me busy a few hours a week and out and about.
Keep an eye on your mental health, some of these ideas might help you.
Open up to your support system
Whether that’s family or friends, on the phone or in person. Make sure you’re discussing your concerns and worries with someone – don’t bottle them up. If you’re struggling to talk to someone close to you, then try mental health charities or help lines. It might feel weird, but that’s what they are there for.
I’ve also recently come across 7 cups, which offers free opportunities to chat and affordable online therapy.
As you all know, I love reading. I’ve been using books to escape my daily worries right before I sleep. I’m currently trying to find a good balance between captivating fiction and “you got this girl” motivational / business books. They’re the best way to escape the real world in my opinion.
Find small pockets of joy
For me it’s been coffee, books and searching for second-hand bargains on depop. Find something affordable that brightens your day in the midst of the bleugh.
Give yourself a break
Sometimes you’ve gotta just sit on the sofa and binge watch 8 hours of Schitt’s Creek or all three seasons of The Sinner. You’ll likely have ups and downs during this period and that’s ok.
Although I’ve tried to stay as positive as physically possible, that’s actually impossible to maintain every day. Try not to beat yourself up if you have a down day, just embrace it and be kind to yourself.
I hope this has been helpful for anyone in this situation at the moment, but keep going. It’s a rubbish time being unemployed but there’s a job out there for you somewhere!
Good luck and let me know if I can do anything to help!