Seven Ways to Stay in the Game When You're Unemployed

unemploymentSome states have seen their unemployment numbers dip. Not California. Its unemployment rate is at an all-time high at 12.4 pecent, making it harder for the unemployed to feel optimistic. But, thanks to federal on-the-job training programs and local work source centers, there is a ray of light.

"I really thought I would retire there, so it was a huge blow to be let go," said Debbie Gazzola of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Losing her job as an office administrator after 26 years was bad enough, but Gazzola also lives in the Inland Empire, an area in Southern California hit hard by the recession.

Luckily, her local unemployment center, the San Bernadino Employment Resource Center, is well-suited to the task, and Gazzola took full advantage by signing up for classes in resume writing, mock-interviewing and updating her computer skills.

For Malena Castillo, a non-profit counselor who also lives in the Inland Empire, a new career was her way out. Luckily, her local resource center was one of 2,300 federally-funded Workforce Investment Boards for on-the-job training across the country. This program reimburses employers who hire the jobless for a period of time; after eight months of training, Castillo was hired full-time.

Resources are available

These are just a few examples of the resources available. Check with your local unemployment office to see what they offer. As Gazzola and Castillo point out, the hardest thing about being unemployed is finding the will to get out of bed and feel upbeat.

Here are seven tips that will help YOU stay in the game:

1. Don't sit at home. Face the reality of your situation and get out and network. As Gazzola said, "Don't sit around and mope. By isolating yourself, you'll only get depressed and miss opportunities."

2. Approach job searching as if it were your job. Make the most of this time in your life to improve your capabilities and learn new skills. " I never realized how much your body language, the way you speak and present yourself from the beginning, even simple tips like sit more on the edge of the chair, cross your ankles and not your knees -- all of that really makes a difference in an interview," Gazzola said.

3. Visit your local county's unemployment website for resources available to you.

4. Sit down with a counselor and make a day-to-day plan to improve your skills and find a job.

5. Take full advantage of the workshops offered at the Employment Resource Centers, which include resume preparation, interview techniques, business plans and basic computer skills. " I took Excel and Power Point classes because I never needed them on my last job; and now I'm prepared," says Gazzola.

6. Consider a new career or industry. If you have been laid off since Jan. 1, 2008, you may qualify for on-the-job training programs that will help you develop skills to enter a new career. "I hated being on government assistance and took it personally," Castillo said. Now, she has a new start in sales.

7. Join networking and community groups. You never know when a referral or hot tip will land in your lap. "Thanks to these counselors and friends I've made, I've gone from feeling anxiety to feeling confident," Gazzola said.

Next:Secret Weapons and Underused Resources for Your Career Arsenal

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