If you have been unemployed for more than 6 months and have no prospects on the horizon, I'm afraid it is time we had a little talk. First, know that I offer this advice with love. You are clearly not alone. There are millions of others in the U.S. that find themselves in a similar situation.
If you happen to be one of the over 1.7 million that have already felt the financial impact from the expiration of federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation, (EUC) at the end of 2013, you are probably getting a little nervous. Maybe even depressed. The Democrats in the U.S. senate will make another attempt to pass ..., but frankly, it does not look promising to me. If you are still reading, perhaps you are interested in my opinion on why some of the most capable, even talented people I know stay unemployed too long simply because they fall victim to laziness.
I know hearing this will sting. I know that you've probably worked hard your whole life until this point and hearing the word lazy is frustrating. I could sugar coat it by saying “inactive” or “indifferent”, but they would mean the same thing: you have given up. You think you have done everything you can to get a job and now you spend more time trying to forget you are unemployed than you do looking for a job.
Do you spend too much time on Facebook, Twitter, the X-Box, or Netflix? These can all be critically damaging to your career search. If you are spending more than an hour on any of these things during the time you would typically spend at work, you have become complacent in your job search. There is a cool app called Strict Workflow that can help you manage your time online. I use it myself. It helps re-direct me and limit the time I spend on social media. It essentially blocks the sites I should refrain from using during my predetermined work time with a pop up that says, "Back to work!" I highly recommend it for anyone that spends a lot of time online looking for job opportunities.
It is time to be very strict with yourself when it comes to "escape" activities. Trust me on this. It is so easy to say you're going to check Career Builder "after while". Remember, we procrastinate about the things we would rather avoid. Hit that job fair when it opens, before the booths are busy. Make phone calls on those job leads before noon. The internet is an awesome resource for your job search because you can use it any time of the day, but trust me, the people that are reviewing your resume work between 8 AM and 5 PM. If you find your resumes are getting no response, try applying to the job and then calling the company you applied to at the same time to follow up. If you catch me by phone as I'm opening up your resume, I might just take the time for a brief phone screen right then if your resume looks good. If you have made a small investment in a site like ResumeSpider, you will want to be watching for the alert that your resume has been viewed and contact the recruiter.
Look, I'm not saying you cannot have entertainment while in a job search. Being unemployed can be tough on your mental well-being and these things can all provide a positive way to escape, too. I'd much rather see someone engross themselves in Mortal Kombat than blow more of their savings on a drink at the bar. What I am saying is that when you are looking for a job, looking needs to be your job. During 8 AM and 5 PM or at the very least the hours you would typically work, all of your efforts should be spent in towards something that will help you find a job.
Everything you do during your work day should be focused on: improving your resume, educating yourself, volunteering in the community, networking with career contacts, or applying to jobs. You will stay much more motivated if you get up and get dressed as if you were going to work. This means 8 hours minimum, 5 days per week. Check out some of the awesome opportunities for low-cost or no-cost learning online. Some of the best learning institutions in the world now offer amazing courses that would be attention grabbing on any resume. I recently discovered EdX and you will find free opportunities from Havard, MIT, Berkley and more on this site.
So there it is. My dose of tough love. What will you do with it? Will you step up and get back to work? Will admit that you might have let yourself become lazy? Stop sitting around telling people how bad the job market is right now and make it your mission to prove that it doesn't matter because you refuse to let it beat you. I know you can do it. I believe in you.
Amy McDonald is the President and CEO supporting several online employment sites. She has worked in the human resources and recruiting industry for over 20 years. Amy has worked with thousands of career seekers recruitment professionals throughout her career, training best practices in finding a job, workplace relations, sourcing talent and refining the recruitment process. In her spare time, Amy participates as a thought leader and contributor for recruitment information with BIZCATALYST360.