One bit of advice I give my career center orientation attendees is to get out of the house every day. I know that some of them are sitting behind their computers until their eyes ache and the computer is humming at them. I also know it’s not healthy to be alone with one’s despondency. Been there.
When I tell them, “Get out of the house,” some laugh and nod with approval, others look at me with interest, and others with amusement. This advice, I give them, is perhaps the most important message they’ll leave with.
Having been out of work for 10 months more than 14 years ago, I understand how it is important to leave the house to escape the computer, the kids, the television, the cleaning. All of it. You know the saying, “If I knew then what I know now…” So let me offer you some suggestions for getting out of the house.
1. Go where people are. If this means going to your local career center, a library, Penera Bread, Starbucks, a park; then do it. Being around people has a therapeutic effect. Hearing the voice of others provides you with the distractions you need in order to avoid the deep well of despondency. It can reduce the loneliness you may feel from being cooped up at home.
Talk to people, even if you don’t know them. But understand if they’re not amenable to a discussion. Keep it short if you sense they’re busy or focused on something else. When they keep their eyes on the computer screen, this is a hint that they’re not open to a dialog.
2. Go to the gym or take long walks. How you prefer to exercise and let off steam is up to you. I find walking to be a great way to clear my mind, as well as strategize about what I need to do. While I was out of work, I increased my walking regiment from 45 minutes a day to 90 minutes. I walked and walked and walked. Bonus: it’s free.
Keep your routine. You’re no longer waking to go to your former place of employment, but you will continue to rise at the same time to exercise. I always suggest to my career center customers that they increase their exercise or start exercising if they’re not already doing it. Develop a plan that is doable for you, whether it’s everyday, or every other day.
3. Coordinate a small networking meeting, better known as a meetup. This might include gathering with other professionals, such as project managers who have an interest or knowledge in Lean Six Sigma. Although the meetup is for educational purposes, it’s a great place to connect and share employment possibilities. Here is the link for Meet Up.com.
An alternative to a professional meetup could be gathering for various interests. Perhaps one of your interests is reading, and a group of locals meet to pontificate on science fiction or nonfiction. Use this opportunity to unwind and put the job search behind you for those two hours. You need a break from your search.
4. Attend networking events. For some people networking is a bit intimidating because they feel forced to talk to people they don’t know. Attend a few networking events to get the hang of it. If you need to stay back and listen at first, that’s fine. However, eventually you’ll get the hang of it and feel more comfortable.
Determine some goals before you go to the networking groups. You may decide you only want to talk with a few people at each event. Perhaps you plan to meet someone you know or, better yet, you travel together to an event. Some groups specialize in particular industries, such as IT, medical, finance, legal, etc., so you may want to focus on one where you’ll be with people of the same interests.
5. Volunteer at an organization that needs your talents. You’ve probably heard a great deal about how volunteering is great for your job search. And you probably think, why should I offer my services for free? I get your concern. Who wants to work without getting paid?
Think about it logically. By volunteering you’ll enhance the skills you possess, as well as possibly learning new skills. You’ll not only increase your skill set; you’ll also put yourself in a place to gather labor market information and network. Keep in mind that some say by 27% by volunteering.
6. Ask for networking meetings. I don’t call these informational interviews for a reason. When you ask someone for an informational interview, their reaction won’t be as positive as if you were to ask her for some advice. Tell her you’re interested in gathering some information about a new career or one in her type of company, not her company.
You’re the one asking the questions, so make them intelligent questions. The goal is to impress the person with whom you’re speaking so if there’s a position developing at the company, she might suggest your name to the hiring manager. At the very least, try to leave with other people with whom you can speak.
As simple as it sounds, getting out of your house can greatly help your job search. It helps your fragile state of mind to get away from your computer or, worse yet, the television; and increases your networking opportunities. My strong suggestion is to dress business casual when your out and about, as well as present a positive attitude. You never know when you’ll meet a potential employer.
Also keep in mind that your job search is important and that others’ needs will have to take a backseat to your activities. In other words, be selfish. You can’t watch the kids or grandchildren when you have a workshop or networking event to attend. You have to meet with a networking colleague for coffee, no questions asked. In other words, BE SELFISH.