Graduation, company downscale, seeking out new opportunities. Whatever the circumstance, unexpected unemployment is an unfortunate turn of events that most people don’t handle very well. Having graduated four years ago, as well as having an early change in jobs, I knew the situation I was about to enter. However, poor planning and preparation meant that I didn’t make the best use of my time. Since hindsight is 20/20, I can now share with you the things that I would have done differently.

Keep the focus on a routine

When you no longer have a set schedule or daily obligations, it can be very tempting to slouch about in your pyjamas every day while watching Netflix. This may seem fun in the short term, but in the long run, this can be very damaging to both your physical and mental health. This can be more of a reality if you’ve been asked to leave your current position without a backup plan put into place.

A suggestion I should have taken was to structure the days of unemployment as if I had a nine to five job. At this juncture, consider finding new employment as your full time job. During the day, focus on either developing new skills employers want, writing and improving applications and developing your network of contacts. Following this, ensure that you look after your self by partaking in physical exercise as well as using free meditation apps on your phone. Doing these tasks will keep your body in a good routine, making the transition back into employment a lot easier.

Although your new routine focuses on finding a new job, one way to aid this is through volunteering. It could be aiding at the local soup kitchen or working in a charity shop, but volunteering gives you the opportunity to develop new skills, meet new people and give back to the community. Also, volunteer work looks great on your CV and explains what you did with yourself between jobs.

Keep your finances in check

With the cut off of a regular income, the number one priority should be to look after your finances. Start by listing all of your outgoing sources and separating your budget into necessities and luxuries. Afterward, see what areas you can cut back on. This could involve shopping at cheaper supermarkets, pausing subscriptions to services or taking public transport as opposed to driving.

Next, calculate how long you can live on your new budget based on your sources of wealth such as your savings. You may find that you have more time at hand then you originally thought regarding landing a new job. However, bear in mind that although you ideally may want a job in a given time frame, this may not be the case. Before asking friends and family for help, consider ways to downsize your life and find alternative sources of income. Many side hustles begin this way and remain a useful stream of income even after you find permanent employment. Whatever you do, avoid taking out a short-term loan. These short-term lending schemes have been known to turn into debt traps for even the most responsible of borrowers.


Written by Craig Poku