Job Seeking Spare Time

A reader writes:

Hi Anita,

I have been unemployed for 2 months and try as I may, I still am having trouble finding employment. I am starting to get extremely bored and the excess hours of the day are beginning to get to me. With the large amount of free time on my hands, what can I do to during the day that will have a positive impact on my job search and my day-to-day life?

Dear, Stuck With Too Much Spare Time,

Job HuntingBeing unemployed and having nothing to do are not as much fun as many people make it out to be. I bet for the first week or two, it feels like a nice vacation full of sleeping in, leisurely breakfasts, watching television all day, and kicking up your feet. But after a short while, those things you wished you could do while you were working are becoming unbearable and boring. If you are starting to feel down about yourself or feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, I ask you to turn that frown upside down. It is time to start being proactive and getting your life back on track.

The first thing you need to do is set a schedule out for yourself. No more sleeping in until noon and watching television until the wee hours of the morning. Most people who are employed are up and out the door in time to be at work by 8 a.m. Now that you do not have a job, what do you think your full-time position is? You guessed it, JOB HUNTING! Immediately, go see my friends at Select Staffing and fill out an application. Chances are they will be able to enter you in their database and offer you advice on how to proceed with your search. You must dedicate at least 6 hours a day to searching for a job. That doesn’t mean just scouring the Internet; get out there and sell yourself. For tips and tricks on becoming a very successful networker, check out my post Networking Know-How.

Try to find a class in your area that will build your résumé and your skills. If you work in a warehouse, look into getting your certification in forklift driving. If you are in administrative or executive support, brush up your grammar and proofreading skills. Do something that will benefit you in the long run and help keep your brain from turning to mush.

Build your résumé while doing something good for others. Locate a charity whose cause is near and dear to your heart and start volunteering. This will give you satisfaction and look great to potential employers. Here you can gain Community Serviceprofessional and life skills, meet people that could help introduce you to new job openings, and also earn a great recommendation from your supervisor that can only shed a better light on your unemployment. I once volunteered at a local charity and after a few months of dedicated service, I was offered a paid position in their Career Center.

Surround yourself with positive EMPLOYED people. This is a very important piece of advice to follow. Typically, people who are unemployed will not be happy with their situations and will inevitably bring you down. They will be more likely to engage you in activities that do not mesh well with job hunting activities. People with jobs will be able to share advice and connect with other professionals, possibly resulting in your next job lead.

Cut out the junk food and take some time to get your body moving. Exercise is a great way to spend an hour of your day. Getting your blood pumping will increase your energy level and spread those happy endorphins through your body. It is proven to relieve stress and ward off depression. Healthy foods will give you more energy and make you feel much better, both physically and mentally. Remember if you put good in, you will get good out.

As tempting as it maybe, try to avoid reading the bad news about the job market and the economy; it will only bring you down. Switch over to reading uplifting books and inspiring stories to keep you in a chipper mood. Go by yourself to see movies that bring a smile to your face. It actually gives you a greater sense of independence. I definitely suggest you give it a try.

Set GoalsSet daily and weekly goals for yourself. These do not need to be huge or intricate. Day one can be as simple as waking up at 8 a.m. and apply to 3 viable jobs. If you do that every day for a week, you have 15 job applications and résumés out in the world. Now that is an accomplishment! As you achieve more, you will begin to feel better and more confident in your abilities. Just remember you won’t get anywhere without putting one foot in front of the other.

Now that I have given a few tips, I want to hear from my readers what they find to be the most important advice for keeping your sanity while seeking employment. What things did you do while you were searching for a job?

Take care until next time,

Anita

Validation for Veterans

A reader writes:

Good Morning, Anita,

Recently, I returned home from a deployment to Afghanistan. Since coming home and taking a much-needed break, I feel that I am ready to join the civilian workforce and begin supporting my family again. Like many other veterans, I am running into some difficulty finding gainful employment and paying the bills. What advice can you give to me and other veterans looking for employment and experiencing the hardships of transition? Thank you!

Dear, Valued Veteran:

First and foremost, thank you for your service to our country and for the sacrifices you have made in the name of freedom. I can speak for many reading this blog that we greatly appreciate your efforts and dedication to the United States of America.

Unfortunately, as you mentioned, transitioning into the civilian workforce and regular life after serving in the armed forces can be difficult. Not only do you face the same challenges as those currently unemployed, but you must also Army_Bootsacclimate to new surroundings and hone your military training to fit open employment opportunities.

To get the ball rolling, make sure that you register with Veteran Affairs (VA) as soon as possible after you are discharged. You should qualify for medical and dental insurance. These benefits will diminish your financial burden significantly if unexpected medical emergencies arise. Co-pays for preventative medicine and routine exams are relatively low for this program and maybe expunged if you are unable to afford them.

Next, I suggest that you take some time to sit down and write a strong and compelling résumé and cover letter describing your skills, experiences, and work ethic. These items are job hunting gold and are necessary in landing your next career. For tips and advice on how to create and perfect these documents, take a quick look my posts How to Tailor Your Résumé and Covering the Cover Letter. If you feel like you need additional help, you can look into services such as CareerPerfect  to write your résumé and cover letter for a nominal fee. The VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Program also has services that can help.

Some strong qualities and experience to highlight are:

  • Military efficiency
  • Overseas experience
  • Problem solving skills
  • Flexibility and decision-making abilities under pressure
  • Leadership roles
  • Other relevant experiences

Also, take your military occupation code (MOS), area of concentration (AOC), Air Force specialty code (AFSC), or Navy Soldier_Saluteenlisted classification (NEC) and enter them into a skills translator, like those found at www.vetsuccess.gov/military_skills_translators, to turn them into commonly desired skills in the private sector.

Now that you have a strong and noteworthy résumé and cover letter, head on over to my friends at Select Staffing for employment assistance. Visit their website (www.selectstaffing.com), fill out the online application, and call your local office to schedule an appointment with a recruiter. Select Staffing is actively seeking skilled, dedicated, and versatile veterans for a wide variety of positions. They highly value the characteristics, commitment, and skills possessed by servicemen and women and are determined to do their part to help.

I know that they are currently recruiting for the following positions:

  • General Professional
  • Security Services
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Legal Assistant/Paralegal
  • Accounting
  • Data Entry Operator
  • IT Auditors
  • Utility Workers
  • Project Managers
  • Business Intelligence Analysts
  • And much more!

If you are looking to sharpen your skills and become educated in your field of interest, sign up for the GI Bill. Once you have done so, get in contact with Veteran Affairs Education and apply for benefits online to help cover tuition, books, and living expenses while you are in school. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this benefit as you will strengthen your résumé and have better chances of landing a lucrative career.

I found a great webinar that I think would be great for all veterans to watch, titled “Job Search Tips: Webinar for Military Veterans Transition to Civilian Careers” by Lida Citroën. It is a bit longer than my typical videos but worth the time.

Readers, what advice do you have for our recently-returned Veterans?

Veterans, what have you found to be the most helpful with you return to the civilian workforce?

Understanding Unemployment

A reader writes…

Dear Anita,

I was recently laid off from my position as an Accounts Payable Clerk and my severance package is just about to run out. I was offered 2 months’ pay after the layoff, and I have been living off that while looking for a job. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find gainful employment and now will be filing for unemployment. How do I go about filing for and obtaining unemployment benefits?

Dear, Moving Forward,

Thank you for the great question. It can be a difficult time maneuvering your way through a layoff and coming to terms with what your future may look like. After you have exhausted your severance package or if you were not presented with a package, you may feel like you are up the creek without a paddle. Try your best

to remain calm. You do have the option to receive unemployment for up to 99 weeks if necessary.

Every state has a different process and procedure as to how you go about obtaining these benefits. Most states allow you to file a claim right from your own home or wherever you have access to the internet by completing an online application. If you do not have this type of access, you will want to visit the state’s unemployment office or see if you can file over the phone.

Be prepared with specific information that may be asked by your state’s representative. Each state varies on their requirements, but a few pieces of key information are listed below.Discouraged_Job Seeker

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Telephone number
  • Former employer’s name
  • Former employer’s address
  • Former employer’s telephone number
  • Employer’s Federal Identification Number. (located on your pay stub)
  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your Alien Registration card number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Employment start and end dates
  • Compensation amounts, typically just your wages
  • Grounds of your release or termination of employment

After you have submitted the initial application and are approved, you will be given the option to reapply for aid each week. Funds are typically paid to your bank account, via check, or sent to a debit card.  Select whichever method of payment fits your situation the best.  If you choose direct deposit to your bank account, be sure to submit a voided check to verify your routing and checking account numbers.

Job HuntingMore details and information about filing for unemployment in your state can be found visiting your state government’s unemployment office.

My final piece of advice is to not stop your job search! As a matter of fact, some states won’t continue sending you checks unless you prove you have applied to jobs each week. I will be writing an article soon on what you should do while you are unemployed to increase your chances of landing a great job. Stay tuned for this post. In the meantime, I have a quick video I’d like to share with you that synopsizes this post.

Readers! Have you had to file for unemployment benefits? Share with me your experience and how you are overcoming adversity.

Thanks and I look forward to your comments!

-Anita

Loathing Layoffs

A reader writes:

Hi Anita,

Even though the economy is starting to pick up and the job market seems to be regaining strength, I have had the idea of layoffs in the back of my head. If I had to let some of my people go, I am not sure I would know how to do it professionally and legally. Any suggestions to settle my racing mind?

Breaking the bad news to someone you respect and have built a professional relationship with can be extremely tough. It makes it even harder when this person is laid off by no fault of their own. With the shaky economy, we have seen record numbers of people losing their jobs. It appears that the economy may be slowly but surely getting back on its feet. But if you are faced with delivering the axe, it is always best to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the situation.

First thing to do if you are notified by upper management that a downsizing scenario may be taking place, ask if you have the permission to make a general announcement to your staff to prepare them if the time should come. Your staff will be shocked and confused but in the long run better for it. Give them a date to when the staffing cuts will begin. It will encourage them to prepare for the worst. DISAGREE – it will cause a mass exodus and may not even happen. Only agree if the entire team is getting let go.

If you are asked to layoff an employee be ready with justification for your and the companies decision. An answer like “just because” or “it’s not you, it’s us” isn’t going to cut it or sit well with the employee across the table. Be understanding but professional. Legally, in some states, you do not have to say and would be advised not to say. That said, the manager should understand that the employee will take whatever is said personally and the manager should use kid gloves – as you said below.

Now that the employee has been thrown into a tailspin, offer some options for them to take control of their situation. Most companies offer severance packages to recently laid-off employees. You can give them the option of extended health benefits instead of monetary compensation. This gives the sense that they still have choices. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to have HR in the room so they can walk the employee through their options.

Finally, even though you are trying to be professional and emotionally distance yourself, you are human. Show sympathy and offer a few kind words can’t hurt.

Have any reader’s been forced into layoff situation on either side? Tell me your stories — the good, the bad, and the downright ugly!

Looking forward to your comments,

Anita

New Unemployment Benefits Law

A reader writes…

Anita, will you please provide some information regarding the new unemployment benefits law? Any restrictions or rules we should be aware of?

Dear “Unemployed,”

On December 17, 2010, Congress passed a Federal law that extends unemployment benefits for another 13 months!

What does this mean to those of you who are unemployed?
Eligible unemployed workers will have MORE TIME to collect maximum benefits while continuing to search for a new job.

Below is some information that I pulled from the EDD website. Though the EDD (Employment Development Department) is a California state agency, they include some helpful information regarding the recent federal legislation.  Take a peek…

NEW FILING DEADLINES FOR FEDERAL EXTENSION BENEFITS

For more than two years, an unprecedented offering of federal unemployment extension benefits has provided additional financial support to unemployed workers hit hard in this long, harsh recession. In addition to the up to 26 weeks of regular UI benefits offered any time an eligible worker becomes unemployed, up to 73 weeks of additional benefits have been available through four different tiers of extension benefits and a separate extension of benefits known as the FED-ED extension. All together, up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits have been available to help support unemployed workers, their families, and their communities.

Here is a breakdown of the new filing deadlines for federal extension benefits now that the program has been extended for another 13 months:

CURRENT UI EXTENDED BENEFIT DURATION & CLAIM DEADLINES

UI Benefits Provided During This Recession
UI Claims Maximum Weeks of Benefits Provided Deadline for Starting This Type of UI Claim
Regular UI Claim Up to 26 weeks of benefits Once someone becomes unemployed
1st Tier of Federal Extension Up to 20 weeks of benefits December 25, 2011
2nd Tier of Federal Extension Up to 14 weeks of benefits January 1, 2012
3rd Tier of Federal Extension Up to 13 weeks of benefits January 1, 2012
4th Tier of Federal Extension Up to 6 weeks of benefits January 1, 2012
Separate FED-ED Extension Up to 20 weeks of benefits January 8, 2012
POTENTIAL TOTAL MAXIMUM BENEFITS Up to 99 weeks of benefits  

No impact for customers who have run out of maximum benefits

The federal legislation enacted on December 17, 2010 does not include any additional weeks of extended benefits, so the maximum total remains up to 99 weeks of benefits.

Unemployed individuals may be eligible for assistance to meet basic needs as well as other services such as health care, counseling, employment, and training assistance.

Impact on Federal Stimulus Payments

If you are a claimant who qualified for the $25 stimulus payments, current federal law states the last week these stimulus payments can be made is the week ending December 11, 2010. Claimants who filed a new regular UI claim effective May 30, 2010 or after do not qualify for the $25 stimulus payments.

Who qualifies for unemployment?
Click:  United States Department of Labor  for specific details regarding eligibility, how to file a claim, what disqualifies a person, benefits, and more.

Hope you find this information helpful!

-Anita

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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