This post was originally written in January 2019, and updated in March 2020.
I’ve had the thought to write this post for a long time, but always felt some embarrassment. So, instead of sharing what I learned I let it sit here in my drafts folder, untouched. It’s time though. I’m sharing what to do if you find yourself unemployed. It’s happened to me, and it’s very common.
The first time I was unemployed it was only for a month, but it was the scariest month of my life. Barely out of college, I had just completed (unsuccessfully) a training program for the job I had wanted, worked for, and dreamt about for the last four and a half years of my life. Suddenly, I realized that I had no idea what I was supposed to do with my life. The job I thought I wanted turned out to be miserable. The fashion industry? Not glamorous from the bottom of the corporate hierarchy. At first, I just thought that’s what was supposed to happen, you’re supposed to hate your job, right? Wrong.
The second time I was unemployed it lasted for a few months. I had finally figured out a career path in marketing and was working an ongoing contract job in the marketing department of a haircare company. I knew my contract was going to be cut off soon, but the “ongoing” piece of it meant I didn’t have an end date in advance. My boss had gone on maternity leave and her boss just didn’t know what to do with me. I got a call at 2pm on a Friday telling me that it was my last day and I was not to return to work on Monday. I was livid. Who the heck gives someone 3 hours notice?! I was out of a job in 3 hours and had to think quick on my feet. My first reaction was anger, my second was to call my mom, and my third was to work on something I was passionate about.
These few months turned out to be the best thing for me because I really got my blog going at that time. I set up my new website, had time to create content, played around in photoshop, learned how to take photos of myself on my tripod, and really found my stride with consistent posting. I used my website and Instagram as a portfolio to start applying to social media jobs, and I did eventually find one. I was there just about until I decided to take my blog full time.
I learned so much about myself in those few months of being unemployed. I learned that I could, in fact, go without shopping for a few months. I learned how to budget and handle my finances. I learned about my needs vs. wants. Finally, I learned that I am resilient, strong, and can handle anything life throws at me. Being unemployed was ultimately what led me to doing my job today and work for myself for a year and a half. It’s really an amazing thing to see what you are capable of if your back is against the wall.
What To Do When You’re Unemployed
I know it’s scary, but losing or leaving a job without a new prospect isn’t the end of the world. You have options. If you’re in a new city like I was, don’t leave. If you have a significant other, lean on them, but don’t push them away. Take longer walks with your dogs, network, stop procrastinating household projects, or side projects. You’ll experience a lifestyle change while you’re unemployed, but don’t let that be a bad thing. I learned so much about myself in that time. You can exceed your own expectations. You. Are. Resilient.
Evaluate Your Finances
Your financial situation has just gone through a dramatic change. First, evaluate what you have. Look at what you’ve got in your bank accounts. How many more paychecks will you receive? What bills do you need to pay?
This is probably not the best opportunity to open a new credit card and go into debt. However, a credit card can help in the short term, and many new credit cards offer no interest for the first year. I only recommend doing this if you think you can handle paying it off and not ruining your credit, so if you choose to open a new credit card or rely on one you already have, my best advice would be to always pay at least your minimum balance and don’t use it as often.
Other money-saving lifestyle changes I made were to stop shopping completely. (I even wrote a blog post about it.) I stopped the coffee runs, and happy hours were out of the question. If you’re the one paying, date nights may have to take a back seat, as well. I wouldn’t even felt guilty going out with Kale knowing I couldn’t pay! I ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and essentially cleaned out my entire pantry eating what I had and not purchasing new snacks or unnecessary items.Soup, grilled cheese, tuna, PB&J, and pasta are going to become your best friend. They’re all cheap and filling. One day when I just couldn’t take it anymore, I ran to the taco place across the street and paid about $7 for lunch. I felt so guilty and beat myself up about it. It’s ok, though! You’ll slip up. You’ll buy that $5 bottle of wine, and you might even go out with your friends one day. We all deserve a treat, just don’t splurge when you can’t and don’t live out of your means. Figure out where you can earn extra money. Lucky you, you now have time to clean out your closet! Sell what you don’t need on Poshmark. Become a dog walker with Wag! or Rover. Set yourself up on freelancing sites, or drive with Uber or Lyft. You can even take surveys for cash. There are ways to make extra money. You don’t have to sit and wait for an interview call- take action!
Find Something to Do While You’re Unemployed
It’s said that idle hands are the devil’s playthings. So before you get yourself into trouble, find something to do! Take longer walks with your dogs, they’ll love it. Stop procrastinating household projects, or side projects. I was in the fashion design program in college, so I busted out my sewing machine and made a few pieces. I sketched, I created my website and started my blog. Get up at a normal time and have a routine.
Networking is a huge key to success. To this day I have stacks of business cards in case I ever need to reach out to the people I met once. You never know when you know someone who knows someone! OK that was cheesy, but it’s true! People love helping people, especially when they get credit. The first time I was unemployed I reached out to a girl I interned with in college and she got me the interview which landed me my next job. Was it my dream job? No, but it did put me on a path to the fashion world, it was pretty fun, and most importantly, it was a paycheck (no matter how small it was).
Regardless of the size of your network, get out there and meet more people!
Networking For FREE
- Take your dog to a park
- Strike up conversation around your apartment complex
- Look up networking events in your area
- Join local Facebook Groups
- Go to Meet-Ups
- Work on your computer at coffee shops
Listen to Your Gut
Like I said above, I never wanted to climb the corporate ladder. I wanted a creative job where I could make beautiful things and share them with the world. First it was a ballerina, then a fashion designer, now I’m a blogger, and definitely in my comfort zone. While none of those are the most stable or easy to get jobs, I am passionate about them. If I was honest with myself, I would have skipped the corporate world all together, and potentially avoided this whole mess.
Look At Your Job Options
Is what you were doing really the right job for you? If not, that’s ok! Figure out what you’re meant to do. If I’ve learned anything I’ve figured out that I’m not good at things that I don’t enjoy doing. It’s also important to find the right place to do the job you want to do. The people around you, the atmosphere, the work that you’re doing, you have to believe in it! Work isn’t always super fun, it is work after all, but in the grand scheme of things you need to believe in.
On that note, don’t accept jobs that you know you’ll hate. I applied for tons of “marketing” jobs that sounds great on paper but are really grand pyramid schemes of event marketing where you’ll stand at events trying to get people to sign up for a new cell service. (No thank you.)
Apply For Unemployment
Apply for unemployment as soon as possible. Don’t be too proud to apply for unemployment. You may or may not get it depending on the terms of your exit from the workplace, severance packages, but if you can get it, it helps a ton. There’s nothing shameful about being able to pay your rent! You’ll most likely have to prove you’re applying for jobs while you’re accepting payments.
Get a Part-Time Job
When I didn’t immediately get a new job after my contract ended, I couldn’t just sit around and wait. I ended up getting a part-time job at the mall to make extra cash and have something on my resume while I was still looking around for something new. I ended up keeping the job on weekends even after I found my full-time position for extra cash and the discount! If retail isn’t your cup of tea, figure out where you can earn extra money.
You’re unemployed. Lucky you, you now have 8 more hours in a day to clean out your closet! Sell what you don’t wear/need on Poshmark. Become a dog walker with Wag! or Rover. Set yourself up on freelancing sites like Fivver, or drive with Uber or Lyft. You can even take surveys for cash. There are always ways to make extra money, but fair warning, you’ll have to check your ego at the door. These aren’t always the most glamorous jobs. You don’t have to sit and wait for an interview call- take action!
Create a Side Hustle
Having a couple months off of work was truly the best thing for my blog. It allowed me to really get started and find a use for it as a portfolio past just a creative outlet. I finally was writing as if others were reading, and I stepped up my social media game. I did so much googling and research to figure out what I needed to do, because at this point I figured if I wanted a job in social media, I needed to prove I could do it! Guess what? It worked! My former agency was so impressed by my blog and social media they hired me!
Being unemployed is scary, but like I said, not the end of the world. I’ve been there and back, and came out on top. You will be ok, just persevere, which happens to be my word for 2019!
Here are some unemployment resources.
Additional career resources.
I’m realizing how little business and work-wear I post! The blazer in these photos is a great versatile piece, but I do not recommend wearing jeans to an interview. See what to wear to an interview here!