Dealing with Unemployment: The Ultimate Survival Guide

Unemployment Survival Guide

For the millions of you who are unemployed, this may be an extremely unsettling and uncomfortable time for you. Some of you may still be in a sleepwalking shock, still not fully aware of this new state of existence, while others of you may have fallen into a deep depression, unable to get out of bed. Whatever your reaction may be, losing a job can be one of the most challenging times of your life. A constant sea of thoughts races through your mind and you just keep asking yourself over and over, “What in the world do I do now?”

In order to deal with being unemployed and prevent anxiety and worry from becoming your daily companions, below are some tips that may help as you move forward through this new phase of your life:

1)      Devise a job search action plan that includes:


·         Comprehensive networking list – think of friends, family, colleagues, or acquaintances you can reach out to for networking or career guidance advice. Now is not the time to be shy! In my own job search initiatives I have found people to be amazingly helpful, plus I made some new friends during the networking process. You never know what may come about by picking up the phone or sending an email to someone.


·         Create a list of appealing companies you are interested in working for – A year ago I was interested in working for a specific company so I found the name of a recruiter from the company on LinkedIn. I sent a personal email along with a resume to the recruiter and a week later I had an interview. While I ended up withdrawing from the interview process due to taking another position, the overall experience was quite positive, and a reminder that just applying for jobs through traditional means isn’t always the best route to securing interviews. The key is to contact specific individuals that work for the companies you are interested in working for.



·         Figure out if you can (and should) reinvent yourself – If you are not finding open positions that fit your exact job profile, you may need to reconsider other positions where your skills are transferable. Take a hard look at your resume and figure out if you can market yourself for other types of positions.


·         Obtain a number of different professional opinions on your resume – As a recruiter I know how vital a strong resume is in securing an interview. A well-written resume should paint a favorable picture of you as a candidate. It should represent you in all your glowing greatness! Work on being humble in other areas of your life, but not when it comes to your resume.


·         Make yourself accountable to tangible goals – Think of being unemployed as your new full-time job. Just as you would have goals in an actual job, you should have goals during a job search. For example, one goal could be to make three networking contacts each week or apply for two new positions each week. Goals are vital to keeping you motivated and on track.


·         Schedule informational interviews – These types of interviews are not formal interviews but instead are used as a means of obtaining more information about a specific position, company, or industry. Informational interviews may be quite beneficial for those of you interested in making a career change or for those of finding it difficult to secure a position.  How do you find people to meet with? Join different networking groups such as your college alumni association, LinkedIn, or specific business networking groups in your field. Maybe I have just been lucky but I have found people to be more than willing to meet with me for informational interviews.


2)      Don’t allow depression to get the best of you. It’s easy to feel the world is caving in on you when a steady paycheck, benefits and a structured life are abruptly stripped away from you. In order to combat depression, here are some ways to uplift your spirit:


·         Receive a natural injection of happiness – Endorphins work wonders in helping to dissolve negative emotions. After finishing a great workout at the gym or outside you will feel much better and have a renewed outlook on life. Playing motivating music during working out also helps tremendously.


·         Surround yourself with positive people – Energy can be quite contagious and during times like this, it’s vital to spend time with people who will lift your spirit and instill faith that things will get better. If you spend time with people who moan and groan and are constantly complaining, you too will start feeling down and out on life.



·         Take care of yourself – Refrain from dissolving your woes into a bag of Doritos or a bottle of your favorite alcoholic beverage. During times of stress, people often resort to bad habits as a means of coping. The only problem is that eating, drinking, smoking or engaging in other bad habits will not help your situation. Sure, all these things serve as a temporary “happy” fix but you will only feel worse if you keep abusing your body. Also, all these vices only serve to anesthetize you from dealing with life. When you are trying to figure out the next step in your career, it’s important to be fully alert and at the top of your game.


·         Turn off the TV – Instead of spending time listening to the disheartening unemployment statistics, do research on companies that are actually hiring. If you constantly focus on the fact jobs are constantly being cut, you won’t actually believe there are open positions out there.


3)      Express gratitude for all the abundance in your life. When you constantly focus on the “lack” (lack of money, lack of a job, etc.) you will only become more stressed out and unhappy. Be thankful for everything you have been blessed with thus far in your life and more abundance will come flowing in.


4)      Consider alternatives to finding a job such as:



·         Start your own business – A friend of mine had always wanted to start her own business and when she lost her job this past November, it was the big push she finally needed to make her dream of becoming a business owner a reality. After only a few months of being an entrepreneur, my friend’s business is thriving and she is happier than she has ever been. I am so inspired whenever I think of her courage in taking such a major risk, especially in this less than robust economy.


·         Volunteer – There is nothing more invigorating for the soul then giving back to others. Plus, you never know what doors could open by putting yourself in a new situation. You could end up securing a full-time position through the volunteer opportunity or finding out new insights about yourself and the direction you want to take your career.



·         Return to school – If you had always wanted to finish your degree or obtain a new degree, now may be a great time to do so.


5)      Live in a state of possibility versus a state of fear – Whenever I find myself feeling unsettled or consumed with fear, I think of the quote by R.I. Fitzhenry: “Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don’t let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.” Change, especially when it initially seems negative, can turn your life upside down. It’s important to remember however that nothing in life is permanent and there will always be change. There is so little we can control, no matter how hard we try. When we relinquish control and keep our door open to new and exciting possibilities, we remove roadblocks created by our own fear. Living in a state of fear is paralyzing and prevents us from moving forward.

Are you unemployed and unsure of what to do? Contact Colleen today for a FREE consultation. Today is the day to start moving your life forward! Colleen can be reached via email at

Colleen Canney

Career, Life, Wellness Coach


One Response to “Dealing with Unemployment: The Ultimate Survival Guide”

  1. Suresh Resume guide Says:

    Hi Colleen,

    A nice, informative and practical article for devising a job search action plan and also for changing one’s mental attitude for success.

    I particularly liked the phrase ‘Think of being unemployed as your new full time job’. Really living life with that attitude would make a tremendous difference.


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