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When you take a career break or become unemployed, you can enter a world of unknown issues.  This may include changes in your everyday routine, lack of a steady income and varying moods. Unemployment in the past two years has largely resulted from company restructures, economic downturn or even personal choice.  Everyone reacts differently to change and with COVID, life and work has thrown us unusual challenges.  Here are some tips for managing a career break or when unemployed.

Adapt: For some unemployment is painful, others exciting, yet learning to adapt is essential.  This is important because unemployment is considered a negative transition when compared to positive transitions, such as graduating from university or landing the job offer you wanted.

Accept: Changes are a part of life, so you must remain flexible and accept change.  It can be hard however it is important to let go of the past, be in the moment and explore new alternate paths in your career phase.

There is no failure only feedback.  This is important when you are actively looking for a new job. Learn from the past and learn from those employment rejections by bouncing back, asking for feedback, assessing what you can, making necessary improvements, and moving on.

Be hopeful:  You might have already heard – your view of unemployment affects your ability to press through. In this period of transition, you may find it harder to function, if you are going through it, without hope. Why?  Because your suffering will have you believe, it is the end of the world. You can start to see career breaks as a paralyzing event instead of a challenge.  

Maintain the right perspective:  With the right perspective, you will gain understanding into what you can and cannot control.  Each day, do what you can to better your situation.  When you function with hope and with optimism, you see your situation from the right perspective and keep forward momentum.  There is a job for you somewhere – see rejection as a learning opportunity.

Learn and growOne negative effect of long-term unemployment is skills atrophy.  The longer a person is out of work, the more likely it is their skills will begin to deteriorate through lack of use and training.  Here is a secret!  Active learning increases your positivity in unemployment, and it benefits your career.  You cannot predict what happens in your career.  Do not hesitate to learn something new during this time such as online micro-credentials or volunteering.  

Care for yourself: I mean your care for your whole being every day – spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical.  It is easy to ignore yourself and push yourself to the point of exhaustion when you are coping with unemployment.  What happens next?  You participate in the unhealthy behavior of neglecting yourself.  Worrying becomes commonplace and has negative effects on your health.  Make it a mission to care for yourself during this time and prioritize your well-being.  Get some exercise.  Talk with friends.  Network with like-minded people.  Go have a coffee or a massage and seek professional assistance.

Practice patience and endure:  The average length of unemployment in Australian can be upwards of 27 weeks, particularly for older adults.  Patience is essential when are uncertain and the wait is challenging.  Yet it can provide opportunities to mature, plan and refocus.

Self reflection points and questions:

Have you moved past your negative reactions, or are you stuck in them?  Perhaps you are still angry with your previous employer or maybe you have unresolved issues to think about.

Are you living out your core values?  It may be time to assess your life progression, your interests, habits, strengths, weaknesses and skills.

What is your employer of choice?  Where do you want to work?  Research and stay up to date on trends and changes, for example and look at the wider industry.

Is this your chance to upskill?  What other hidden talents or areas of knowledge do you want to use in your next job.  Sure, you may have to take a lower salary, however finding a role that utilises your other core skills can be truly rewarding.

Reflect on every aspect of your life for development and think deeply about your career.  What must you become and what do you want to accomplish?

Maybe it is time to invest in skill-building activities, help others by volunteering or even looking at casual role to get you motivation levels up.  Whatever you choose, believe in yourself.