Surviving Unemployment: Be a people person.

Friends through it all.

Last week I introduced my upcoming series of blogs about coping with your job loss. This week I will tell you how being a people person will help you endure the wait until you land your next job. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, therefore I cannot give you the medical facts on why being with people minimizes depression. What I am able to do is to suggest some activities that will keep you out and about.

It is no surprise that being with people is more fun that being alone. Some solitude is necessary, but too much is risky to your healthy state of mind. The daily interaction with colleagues is stressful at times, but the human interaction is what people miss most about their lost job. There are two ways of looking at surrounding yourself with people. One networking in job search jargon. Networking events bring people together for the purpose of making contacts that will hopefully be beneficial to both parties. The other is being socially engaged which is also a manner of networking even though that is not the sole purpose. Rather it is a possible outcome.

While you were working, time was precious. There never seemed to be enough of it to do everything that needed to be done. Now, some things can be done during the day instead of squeezing them in between work and bedtime. On the weekends family and social obligations left little time for pursuing interests of your own. Your unplanned vacation opens up time for you to pursue events that will make you feel connected to the outside world.  The following list is only an example, what you chose to do is up to you.

Networking opportunities:

  • Job search groups: Provide an opportunity to share the woes of being unemployed along with tips and leads for job searchers to use. There are many different types and finding one that is right for you won’t be too difficult. Contact the coordinator to find out the goals of the group, the way it operates and any fees.
  • Networking events: provide a large group of people each with different contacts and needs. By interacting with as many people as you can during the event, you learn what you can offer them and what they might be able to offer you. Most events require pre-registration and have a fee.
  •  Career fairs: Provide opportunities to meet with human resource people from various companies. Check the list of companies participating just prior to the event to see if any of your target companies are attending or to find new target companies.

Social Engagements:

  • Meeting friends: Maintain contact with your friends. Your friends are a support system for you during this stressful time. They will provide relief from the loneliness you can feel from being home. Ask them to change the way you meet. Look for lower cost venues.  Enjoy a day by spending time with friends around a prearranged theme.  Spa Day, Arm Chair Coach day, clean up each others yards, or workout together.  Find another friend who is unemployed and go for a walk around office and industrial parks.  While you are there take note of the names of the companies there and when you go home look up their websites to see if they have any openings.
  • Clubs, charitable and religious organizations: While you were working, time was precious and didn’t allow you to join clubs, charitable or religious organizations. These not only provide you with an opportunity to meet new people, but also the chance to use or learn new skills and feel part of something again.
  • Performance based groups: If you have talent or interest in singing or acting, joining a choral group or community theater is a great to feed that desire. Using your talent with a group of like-minded people gives you a sense of belonging and part of something bigger than you.
  • Special interest groups: Check out your local newspaper for special interest groups in your area, such as bird watchers, adult sport leagues, political activism, etc. are just a few. If you can’t find what interests you, start a group.
  • Volunteer your time: Libraries, soup kitchens, SPCA’s, non-profits, schools, hospitals, elderly in the neighborhood (or any you know) all need free help. You can pick the amount of time and when you want to volunteer. Choose the type of work you want to do. Both of you will reap the benefits. The feeling you get when you volunteer your time to help someone else can’t be compared to anything else.

Belonging to a group of people doing something you enjoy benefits your mental health. However, your mental health isn’t the only thing to benefit. Each new person you meet as a result of the above human interactions is a new contact. Each one is a potential colleague, future friend, or soul mate. You never know where the relationship will lead.

Arleen Bradley is a certified career coach providing stuck job searchers with the tools they need to find the job of their dreams.

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