Being unemployed is hard. Not only are you spending your days job hunting -- the hardest and least gratifying job there is -- but in exchange for what is possibly more spare time than you know what to do with, you have significantly less money. Nevertheless, once you have a new job under your belt, you'll look back on all the free time you used to have and wonder why you didn't take better advantage of it. Here are a few ways to spend your time wisely while unemployed:
- Ask an employed friend to meet you for lunch. Particularly someone you don't see regularly, like a former colleague. While it does cost money, consider a "networking lunch" like this one an investment. You can ask your friend about job openings at his company, and ask about other mutual acquaintances and former colleagues who work in the same field. You'll be surprised how many contacts you have at different companies who can personally refer you for positions.
- Learn a new skill. Is there a skill you don't have that you sometimes see listed on the job listings you want? Learn it! Whether it involves taking a class for certification or just using some free tutorials online, picking up a useful skill is always a good idea.
- Spruce up your interview wardrobe. Try on your interview clothes to make sure everything still fits. In most cases, your interview wardrobe should include a clean, pressed suit and shirt; a tie for men; and clean and shined shoes. If any of your interview attire is lacking, get it dry cleaned or replace it as necessary. Consider this cost another investment in your job hunt.
- Get some exercise. Job hunting and just being unemployed can be a drain on your energy and mood. Get out and get some exercise, whether you prefer hitting the gym or walking through the park. It can improve your mood, your outlook, and your health.
- Clean house. Now is a great time to do some spring cleaning. Donate or throw out the things you don't need. Clean out a closet. Mop the kitchen. When you come home from a long day at your new job and your clean apartment greets you, you'll thank yourself for investing the time now.
Unemployment is a phase. It will pass, and you'll soon be as busy as ever. Use your time wisely now, and it can improve how you feel today, as well as once that new job starts.
Carissa Doshi is a business writer and the president of Gen Y Media Group. She gives career advice and blogs about her experiences on www.carissadoshi.com. You can also follow @CarissaDoshi on Twitter.