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Productive Ways to Spend Your Time When You're Unemployed

Build your skills

Just because you're one of the many suffering from a layoff (or other form of job loss) these days doesn't mean you should take this as a sign from the cosmos that it's vacation time and spend your unemployment lounging around collecting checks. Although you may be earning more on your unemployment support that you stand to gain by reentering the job market (considering the offers you've gotten), you could still be doing something productive to remain busy, keep your confidence high, and prepare for your eventual return to the working world. Here are just a few suggestions to help you stay in the proper mindset and get you back to work as soon as possible.

Although looking for work can definitely be depressing during a recession, that doesn't mean you should stop trying. Consider that your current job is to look for work and that this is what your unemployment benefits are paying for. Get on every website you can and post your resume, portfolio, or whatever you need to attract prospective employers. Think about spending a little on industry-specific sites as a way to get past some of the major competition happening on free, generic job-hunting sites. And don't forget to sign up for freelance work on sites like ODesk, Elance, and even TaskRabbit as a way to see what kind of interest you can garner (and whether you can turn a small job into something bigger). Keep in mind, however, that earning money while receiving unemployment benefits is illegal. So weigh the pros and cons before taking on a job that will bump you from the unemployment line without delivering long-term benefits.

If you simply can't find a job that will offer you the advantages you're looking for (competitive pay and benefits) it doesn't mean you have to throw in the towel and spiral into depression. You can keep the ball rolling by using this time to beef up your skillset. Think about returning to school to finish a degree (or work towards another), learn about the latest advances in your industry, or even tackle a totally new field as a way to move forward in your professional life. This enterprise could be as simple as taking a couple of online classes or as complex as securing student loans in order to return to school full-time. Either way you will create a new addition for the education section of your resume, and if you go to a brick-and-mortar institution you can also use the collegiate atmosphere to make new connections and beef up your professional network. In short, you'll get nothing but benefits from returning to school as a way to pass your unemployment.

Of course, you could also take this opportunity to pursue some personal goals that have long been pushed under the rug, such as planting an organic garden, teaching yourself to knit, or even volunteering with eco-friendly outreach programs in your community. You may be shopping the sale rack, clipping coupons to lower your grocery bill, and ordering cheap personal checks in order to save money during your unemployment, but that doesn't mean you can't do something useful with the one thing you have in spades: time. So use yours in a wise and productive manner and you'll find that the doors of opportunity open all around you. All you have to do is walk through.

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