Coping with Unemployment After College
As a recent graduate, you might already have realized that the job market is not ideal: job openings are few and far between, and many seem to require a few years’ experience in the field. Most likely, you have a dream job that you have been looking forward to for quite some time now. While dream jobs certainly do exist, they are not always easy to obtain. In fact, more likely than not, if you do find a job right after college, you are going to be underemployed in some way. Whether you are participating in an internship, working an entry-level position, or working a part-time job (or two), you are most likely going to feel underemployed.
However, some recent graduates will choose to hold out for that dream job. Waiting to find that job is fine, as long as you are willing to and able to cope with unemployment after graduation. While unemployment may sound nice to your overworked college self right now, you need to realize that unemployment is not about kicking back and relaxing. If you do choose unemployment right after graduation, you are still going to have a lot of tough decisions to make, and these decisions need to be made carefully in order to help you in the future. Below, you will find information and advice on how to cope with unemployment after college.
Unemployment Benefits After College
Do not think that because you are unemployed you will be able to collect unemployment from the government. Only people who have been laid off from their jobs are eligible. This means that if you plan to live on your own, you will have to dip into your savings in order to make ends meet. You will also have to explain this period of unemployment to any potential employers when you do decide to go onto the job market. Employers will want to know about gaps in your résumé. That being said, there are some benefits to being unemployed. Ultimately, these benefits are dependent on you and what you do with your period of unemployment. You can make the most of your unemployment by devoting the lion’s share of your time to searching for a job. Here are just a few of the benefits of unemployment.
More Free Time: Perhaps the most obvious benefit of being unemployed is that you will have more free time. This free time might feel especially earned after your four busy years in college. Instead of using this time to only watch television, hang out with friends, or just sit around, this is your chance to improve yourself. For the first time in your young adult life, you have the power to control how you spend all of your time. It is in your best interest to use this time wisely.
Figuring Out What You Really Want: While other students were thinking “Will I get a job after college?” you might have been more concerned with your schoolwork, extracurricular activities, or any number of other things. This is fine, and now you have the chance to take the time and think about what you really want. You may have begun this process while you were in college, but now you have more time to reflect on your experiences and figure out what excited you the most and what you want to pursue. In your time of unemployment after college, you can take the time to actually figure out what you want and who you are as a person. By doing this, you will be able to find a job that you actually want and will enjoy doing.
Planning Your Move: Planning your move does not refer to packing up your belongings into boxes and moving to a new city or across town. Instead, it refers to taking the time and considering what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. After you figure out what you really want, you have to actually go after it. However, you do not want to just jump in and try to get what you want. You need to plan out part of your life and decide on some goals. Spend part of your unemployment planning out how you are going to get what you want. If nothing else, the steps you take now as a part of your planning process may just impress a potential employer.
Use Your Time Wisely
Since you are going to have more free time, as mentioned above, it is up to you to use that time wisely. Much like any free time you might have had in school, you should use as much of this time as possible to better yourself, which will ultimately improve your chances of finding that job you want. Here are some things you can do to build up your résumé, stay involved, and further your own interests. These activities will support your candidacy for any jobs you go after when you do decide to begin applying.
Volunteer: Maybe you have already spent some time volunteering for various causes. Perhaps you were a member of a student organization in college and had opportunities to volunteer and serve. No matter what your past experiences are with volunteering, your unemployment would be extremely well spent volunteering. You should consider volunteering on a regular basis with the same organization rather than just volunteering at different places one or two times. Find an organization that you care about and with which you are excited to work. Your commitment and excitement will make you a valuable asset to the organization, and you will feel good for giving back and advancing a cause. If you are a dedicated volunteer and become friendly with any full-time staff members of the organization, it would be appropriate for you to use them as references when you begin applying for jobs. Volunteering is a win-win situation: an organization finds the help it needs, and you gain experience and contacts.
Read: Yes, you probably did a ton of reading while you were in school, but how much time did you have to read books of your choice? Now is a good time to get back to pleasure reading. Throw in some other books that are written by people in the industry you hope to work in and others about searching for jobs. Think of these books as having two purposes: inspiration and knowledge.
Stay Current in Your Industry: With all of your free time, it is a great idea to stay current with your industry. For some, this may mean reading the latest online blogs, reading magazines, or just paying attention to the news. The way you stay current is completely dependent on your industry.
Make Contacts: Almost every city around the world has different opportunities for you to network and meet new people. Some of these people may work in your desired field, some may not. Either way, these networking opportunities are great ways to make connections and learn more about the job market and various industries. These new contacts could provide you with news of job openings, or you may find a mentor that is interested in your success and could provide a reference or letter of recommendation.
How to Pay Your Bills While Unemployed
One of the trickiest and most difficult aspects of being unemployed is making sure you have money to pay your bills. If you do not have some sort of savings built up by this point, then you are really going to struggle with keeping your bills paid. Here are some ways you can save money and keep your bills under control.
Move Back Home: The simplest and most cost effective way to keep your bills down is to move back home with your parents. If this is an option for you, and you are going to be unemployed for a while, moving back in with your parents is probably the best option. This may not be your favorite solution, but if your parents are understanding and will let you live at home for free, you will not have to worry about bills. If you do move back home, pitch in with housework, cooking, and running errands. It is a small way of showing thanks to your parents.
Take Out a New Loan: You can always try to take out a loan to cover your expenses while you are unemployed. Realize, though, that this loan will add to the debt you have already accumulated from your student loans. You will also probably have to deal with high interest rates, meaning you will owe even more money when you can afford to start paying off the loan. However, if you are in good financial standing and have no other options, taking out a loan may be your best option.
Defer Your Student Loan Payments: You can minimize your monthly bills by deferring your student loan payments. Usually, you must apply to do this by providing proof of your unemployment or underemployment. If you do not qualify for deferment, you may qualify for at least lowering your monthly payments. Investigate your options and find out what would work best for you.