How Long-Term Unemployment Could Help Your Career

By Sarah Li Cain

Google any news article and you'll find horror stories of people being unemployed for six months or more. You'll mostly likely read that they suffer from depression, have anxiety issues or are even suicidal.

Kind of bleak, isn't it? While long-term unemployment isn't something to be taken lightly, you can view it in a positive way. In fact, there are benefits to being unemployed!

Here's how long-term unemployment actually benefit you:1. Take advantage of your free time. Remember when you wanted to take that road trip across Canada but couldn't take the time off? Well, now you can! You've always had something you've dreamed of doing, right? Go on, grab a pen and paper. Sit down for five minutes and write whatever comes to mind. It's not the time to drop all your other responsibilities or recklessly spend your money, but do what you can.
2. Learn to surrender. Some of us have been sending out resumes and going to job fairs for more than a few months. There's not much you can do except to try to build your skills and wait. Then wait some more. Being forced to wait teaches you that you aren't always going to be in control of your life. That's okay, because people with jobs aren't always in control of their lives, either.

3. Be empathic. Millions of Americans are unemployed. Many have to support their families, and they might be facing challenges that are even more difficult than what you've got on your plate. Now that you're unemployed, too, it should be easier to understand what they are going through.

4. Learn to identify yourself in different ways. Some people solely define themselves by what their profession is. What happens when you don't have that awesome job anymore? Being unemployed forces you to look deep inside yourself to figure out who you really are.

5. Find patience

It takes time to land another job or start your own business. Jobs don't just magically pop up overnight. Nobody is going to randomly come up to you on the street and ask you to work for them.
If you're like me, you handed out hundreds of resumes and went to numerous job interviews before landing a job. The last job interview I had involved three interviews across two months. If I hadn't been patient about the whole process, I probably would have given up.

6. Get creative. Some people find creative ways to earn an income or to get the attention of employers if they've been unemployed long-term. Many have taken the leap into freelance work or even decided to pursue the business ideas that they've tucked away for years. A friend of mine decided to make a DVD in which he gave advice to different companies on how they could improve their businesses. He was hired within a week.

7. Practice gratitude. No matter how dire your situation, there is always something to be thankful for. You've always got it better than someone else. Take the time to really think about the great things you have going on in your life. Do you have a wonderful and supportive spouse? Do you have a roof over your head and enough food to eat? Make a point to find something to be grateful for!

Even if you've been unemployed for more than a few months, don't lose hope. Sit back, relax and reflect on how you've grown personally through this experience. Just because you might not be getting ahead in your career doesn't mean you haven't grown in other parts of your life.

Sarah Li Cain is an international educator and freelance writer who blogs about reclaiming her fearlessness in life and wants to help others do the same. You can also follow her on Twitter @slicain. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals.

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