If you’re a job seeker who also happens to be employed, you may not love the position you hold…but at least you have one. No matter how desperate you are to find a new opportunity, you still wake up every morning and spend the entire day surrounded by people who claim at least some degree of expertise and a collection of social contacts in your industry.
But when you’re unemployed, staying in touch with professional connections can be a challenge. No matter how you spend your day, your activities probably don’t involve eight hours of casual chat opportunities with others who share your career goals. Here are a few moves that can help you get around this obstacle.
Don’t let embarrassment isolate you.
Losing your job may have been discouraging, to say the least, and you may feel like you need some time away from your old bosses and coworkers to lick your wounds and deal with lingering issues of self-doubt. But try not to do this. The bolder you are, and the quicker you are to reach out to those you’ve worked with in the past, the faster you’ll get off the market and back in the game. The best way to nurse your wounds is to not have them anymore.
Be friendly and open-minded.
Self-doubt has one beneficial and beautiful side effect, and an episode that takes us down a peg also sometimes give us the tools to climb up by two or three or four pegs. If you once thought you had everything figured out, you had all the answers, and you were a winner through and through, welcome to a new reality: one in which you don’t know everything, you have lots to learn, and every social gathering is filled with people who can teach you. Now start listening. Ask more questions, and rein in the urge to pontificate and provide answers.
Remember that friend with the aunt who just attended a science conference in Minnesota? The friend doesn’t work in your industry, and neither does her aunt, but hold onto this fact all the same. You never know which bits and pieces of other people’s life stories might prove useful to you down the road.
Use your notes to help others.
Take your mind off your own needs and troubles and start focusing on the needs of the people around you, starting with your notes. That scientist aunt just lost her old assistant, and she’s looking to hire a new one. The job isn’t for you, but thanks to your notes, you remember that friend of a friend who’s looking for an assistant position exactly like this one. Make introductions. Provide names, numbers, information, and favors. Be a catalyst. Karma is real.
Make sure you choose a non-profit organization whose mission resonates with you and where you can use your professional skill set. Consider the Red Cross, an animal rescue group, or a food co-op. This will help your karma (see above), and even better, it will connect you to lots of names and faces, one of which might open the door to the next chapter of your working life.
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