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How to Improve Yourself When You’re In-Between Jobs

Being in-between jobs can be a stressful time for many. The uncertainty of what’s next, finances, stability, the absence of free donuts and pens in the break room – I get it.

One of the quickest ways to relieve this stress when you’re in-between careers is to focus on something else and use your newfound time to further develop yourself professionally. Here are some tips on getting out of the jobless funk and focusing your energy towards improving yourself while you’re in-between jobs.

Focus on what you DO have instead of what you don’t

If you’re in good health, driving to interviews or printing off your resume from your home, celebrate and be grateful for these things!  Your situation could always be worse; be grateful for the things you do have.

Now I’m going to share something somewhat magical with you. When you shift your energy, and focus on improving yourself, opportunities will open up that you never knew existed.

While you are in-between careers waiting for your next big break there is one thing that you have- time. This is time you usually wouldn’t have on your hands. Use it productively.

If you’re non-stop filling out applications, writing cover letters and sending résumés out and not making any progress, then it’s time to evaluate how you could better use your time. Keep interviewing and applying from jobs, but learn and grow as you go. Putting your head down and hitting “submit” to everything that requires a person with a pulse isn’t going to benefit you in the long run.

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” –Albert Einstein

Here are different ways to improve yourself in-between careers:

Follow-up with people who have interviewed you and ask for constructive feedback

Thank them for the interview and explain that you are in a process of trying to learn and grow. Let them know you are looking to improve and would appreciate a five-minute follow-up call with your interviewer. You can ask: How was my interview? What factors were you considering when you made your decision? Is there anything that comes to mind that I could improve on?

Reach out to people in a position you’d like to acquire to lunch or coffee (easier on the pockets)

Conducting informational interviews is a great way to learn more about jobs and industries of interest and gain insight that can’t be found on the company website or websites like Glassdoor or O*Net.

Make sure that you have specific questions ready for them – Do not waste their time. If they are unavailable for an in-person meeting then ask for a 15-minute phone call (pro tip- most people won’t say no twice if you’re genuine and sincere when you ask). Worst case scenario, you settle for sending them a list of questions via email. Learn what skills you need to acquire, what books they read, the people they have networked with throughout their career, where people in the field hang out after work, etc.

Create a daily routine to not only offset stress, but to push you to learn and grow

Set aside at least an hour in the day for your personal growth. This could be reading, exercising, meditating, journaling, listening to a podcast or even  studying the latest industry trends. Even if the “work” side of work-life balance isn’t clear at the moment because you are in-between jobs, you still want to create a balance to keep yourself on track and prevent becoming overwhelmed with too much time on your hands and no real plan.

Do things outside of your comfort zone

I call this “adventurous self-care.” By throwing in an activity that you’ve never done or hardly ever do gives your brain a dopamine rush and a new challenge. Not only will this make you more interesting on your next interview when you can talk about how you went axe throwing over the weekend, BUT it will more importantly show that you think outside of the box, you’re innovative and not afraid to try new things.

Because you are in-between careers, you need to get this in your head – you have nothing to lose. Do not let your pride hinder you from greatness. Make cold calls, send emails, show up on doorsteps, or hire a carrier pigeon. Get your point across that you are serious. Go after what you want. Don’t waste anyone’s time, but if you’re serious then people will take you seriously and are more incline to help. I’m sure you’re a bona fide expert in your field, but you haven’t secured the job yet so be open to learn from others that are in positions you aspire to be in. You could have all the skills needed, but have an awful delivery or presentation of what your skills are exactly. It could be something tiny that is hindering you from getting your dream job. Be open to learn and constructive criticism.

Every single day you should be either learning something new or confirming something you already know with absolute certainty. You’re either gaining new knowledge or building up your confidence for what you do know.

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway

Thinking of hiring a career coach to help you find your dream job? Browse our directory of career coaches and get a FREE consultation or request a personalized coach recommendation!

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About the Author Erica Ferguson

Erica Ferguson is a stress management coach and the Founder of Prioritizing You, a service teaching how to manage stress, avoid burnout, and navigate through life transitions. Erica has been in the health & wellness field for the past 10 years as a coach, trainer and manager. She is a fitness fanatic that loves to explore, witty remarks, helping others live their greatest lives and almost anything with almond butter on it! Take a complimentary stress assessment at www.prioritizingyou.com.

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