Contributed by Carrie K.
motivationThe average length of unemployment has risen from 21 weeks to 41 weeks, the highest it has ever been.   Being unemployed for such a long period of time has many negative effects on the individual as well as society as a whole and staying motivated can be a challenge.

One of the biggest factors in being unemployed for a long period of time is depression.  Being let go of a job is a blow to anyone’s self esteem. You start to question yourself “Am I not good enough?”, “What did I do wrong?”, “What could I have done better?” In addition to being rejected from your job, you are constantly rejected by the companies you are applying to.  This hammers at your self esteem bit by bit.

  • Seek out support.  It is important to form a good support system when you are unemployed.  Are any of your other friends or contacts unemployed? Are there group sessions at your city’s unemployment office?  Also, search out books and other resources that can get you thinking about new opportunities (even a career direction that you might have put on the back-burner).  For example, The Artist’s Way, What Color is Your Parachute? and The 4-Hour Workweek re excellent books to get your juices going.

You can also fall behind others in your field.  Without practice and being on the job, any new skills that could’ve been obtained aren’t there.

  • Make the Internet your ally.  Luckily, the internet can help keep us on track with what is happening in our field.  By reading blogs, taking lessons on the internet and volunteering, you can keep up with what is happening in your field as well as areas that might be more relevant to today’s market.  For example, you might have been in banking as a customer service representative and defined your field as banking.  However, consider that as someone in customer service you have a skill set that includes being a good communicator, having a friendly demeanor, being a problem-solver, thinking outside the box.  By broadening your view of your role, other industry options become available to you.

You also tend to lose the flow of what it’s like being at work. Also, as more people are working from home these days, being prepared for such an opportunity might make sense.

  • Create a schedule.  Structure your day as if you were going to an office.  Remember, the project you are working on when unemployed is you so treat yourself as you would any project or assignment you would do in an office.

There is also a point where the unemployed simply give up applying for jobs.  After all, how many times can you apply for work and be rejected without thinking it’s futile.  Are you exploring all of your possibilities? Being unemployed can bring a lot of shame, so people tend to keep this information to themselves.

  • Make specific requests.  Let everyone you know that you are unemployed and how they can help you.  It is not enough to say help me find a job. You have to explain what type of jobs you are looking for.  But do not just ask for job leads, ask to meet people in the field that you want to work in for an informational interview.

What are your experiences being unemployed?  How do you keep yourself motivated?