211 is the Loneliest Number When Waiting for a Job

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jobsThe official average wait, from layoff to first day of a new job, has been increasing steadily for the last 10 months, and now clocks in at 211 days -- a whopping 30.2 weeks, or 7.5 months. That's the highest it's ever been since the Labor Department began keeping track, back in 1948. To the average American worker, that sounds like an awfully long time to go without gainful employment.

But don't despair! Instead, let that desolate number inspire you to get cracking ASAP, just as soon as the door closes behind you at your former place of employment. Don't wait for unemployment benefits to kick in -- you know they're only a fraction of what you were making before anyway. Prove that you can almost singlehandedly bring that ugly 211 number down, way down, by hitting the job-search ground running. All the best employment experts advise this.


The Best Time to Start Looking for a New Job

John Challenger, CEO of Challenger Gray & Christmas, a company that is hired to help employees adjust and find new positions after they've been released from a job, says one of the biggest mistakes people make when they get laid off is not starting their new job search fast enough. "Many people spend too much time trying to figure out what they want to do, and give up the time when they're most valuable to employers," he says. Challenger says that there are employers out there who are looking to snap up top employees as soon as they become available; but after a certain amount of time, they start wondering, "Why hasn't anyone else hired this person yet?"

So contrary to what you might think and feel, it's not a good idea to use your severance pay to take a long break and try to find yourself, or to finally write that novel. Many people reason that the job situation appears to be getting better, with unemployment down from 10 percent to 9.7 percent last month, and that the longer they wait, the better chance they'll have of finding a job.

Not so, my friend. According to some estimates, 11.5 million U.S. citizens are collecting some type of unemployment insurance right now, and it will run out for 1.2 million of them in March, when federal extensions are scheduled to expire. Time -- for them -- is literally running out. There's a chance that Congress could extend unemployment benefits, but who wants to sit around and wait for that to happen?


Don't Let the Screen Door Hit You

You should start revising your résumé and searching online job boards as soon as you get home with your pink slip. Don't allow yourself the luxury of getting depressed and lethargic. Many people register with a temp agency in their field, so they can fill in when someone is sick, make contacts, and get to know different sides of their industry. For teachers, this means signing up to substitute and/or with tutoring agencies. [See Temp Agency Reviews.]

For me personally, it meant signing on with entertainment temp agencies. Sure, it involved a lot of go-fering and Xeroxing and coffee running -- all chores I considered beneath my 42-year-old, college-educated self. But I didn't even have the luxury of severance pay or unemployment benefits, and when I finally landed my dream job as a Hollywood magazine teacherseditor, the insider contacts I'd made temping at studios and agencies came in very handy. And I was only out of a full-time job for six weeks. I didn't have time to lose my work momentum, get out of 9-5 shape, or get behind on my mortgage payments.

Don't let that long, 211-day wait get you down. Look at it as a challenge. Laugh in its face. The job market loves the proactive, and leaves those who wait in the dust.

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