How to Benefit from Being Unemployed
The question every job seeker faces

In 2013 our author Virag Gulyas  wrote two messages to interns where she touched upon the vulnerable topic of youth unemployment and challenges young professionals face while building their career. Now our other author, Lilit Mkrtchyan , refers to this issue by sharing her own experience and the lessons she learned during exhausting job hunting period. Consider it  to be a Message Nr. 3. 

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” 

Theodore Roosevelt

Whenever our mind is blown away by thoughts about unemployment or job search, we become stressed. Unemployment is certainly not a positive thing. However, when you get a free time during job seeking period, you may control your life on your own. It gives you a freedom to do certain things that your heart desires, which you wouldn’t be able to accomplish having a full-time job.

First, let’s get rid of labels: stop calling yourself unemployed or job seeker, from now on you are a free mover

Now let’s get down to the benefits your current situation offers you:

1. Like most free movers, you probably spend a lot of time browsing through career-websites and writing job applications. During your job hunting activities you reflect a lot upon the possibilities of how to come up with a solution to your problem: you generate new ideas and discover the opportunities you didn’t notice before. This kind of reflection ignites your creativity and imagination.

2. Use this extra time to focus on what you really enjoy and what inspires you, or probably to discover new sources of inspiration. It may be whatever you like and whatever doesn’t require financial investment. It was exactly during my unemployment period, when I discovered my great passion for writing. The job search challenge helped me to set up my real wants and aspirations. 

3. You have more free time while you’re on a job search, therefore you can develop new skills.  Start an online language course or get an insight in the field you were always interested in. There are numerous online platforms which provide such services for free! For instance, Coursera - here you can do free courses on variety of subjects, offered by a whole range of Universities worldwide. Learning a new language will multiply your chances of getting a job in a foreign country or in a international organization. Or start a course on the topic of your interest, something which you always wanted to do, but didn’t have a time for that. It is an excellent way of self-development, which will nurture your mind and broaden your horizons. Following my passion for psychology, I have recently started an online course on Social Psychology. It is not a degree course and I will not receive a diploma or a certificate, however, the course itself is really informative and presents some hidden aspects of psychology, useful both for my personal and research interest.  

These are only a few ways of how to use your time more effectively during job search. Everyone has a unique list of things they want to do. Whatever is may be - from learning to play a musical instrument, to focusing on your health and body by practicing yoga or dancing zumba – keep doing it and enjoy it.

In my case it was writing. Writing has taught me a few great things:

-   first, it is an great way to stay in balance. Whenever I feel stressed or hopeless, I write. I write what I feel, I write what I think and the way I think I could do certain things. I write about anything that comes to my mind: about my past experiences, about the happy moments I had. These memories show me what I was capable for back then and how I could deal with certain problems. It motivates me to continue being strong and keep my eyes open when a miracle happens.

-   second, I realized that writing opens excellent job perspectives and it blends in itself a broad range of fields and opportunities. A few years ago, when I was asked “What kind of job are you looking for?”, I felt confused. I was starting to tell my whole background and the story of my life that “I have a first degree in Languages, a Master in Tourism studies, but I wrote my Master theses in the field of Environmental Psychology, and before starting my first degree I wanted to become a Psychologist...”. This entire story made me questioning myself: “What field do I really want to focus on and what I really want to do?” Now I have a brilliant answer to this question: at this point in my life I know that I love writing! I came to realize that through writing I can merge a few or most probably all of my interests and passions.  

Eventually, the above mentioned options are ways to manage your free time positively during while you are on a job hunt. But naturally, being unemployed is not a positive phenomenon. When you are unemployed, you often feel excluded - both financially and socially. Some people would argue that happiness is not the money or financial opportunities. Certainly not. But money is one of the tools for creating a better and higher quality life. Money may give us the chance to realize our dreams, like travelling or buying a car or even creating a family - which also requires money anyway. All these things may ultimately lead us to happiness. Therefore, money is certainly a constituent part of happiness or a medium to bring us happiness, if you wish. Concerning the social side of unemployment, when being unemployed, we may restrict ourselves from certain possibilities, including human contact, which in its turn may lead to negative psychological consequences. While in contrast, employment may lead us to self-recovery, raise our self-esteem and confidence.

Finally, I want to give my advice to all those who are at the point in their life, when they have to choose whether to start a new voluntary experience or no: if there is a chance to go for an internship or another project – don’t miss it! Even if it’s not financially rewarded, even if it will not lead you to a real job, still do it. Personally, I know that it’s harder to start a voluntary project after years of unemployment, especially when you are continuously seeking employment and participating in several voluntary projects. But if you are on the first stage of the job search and if there is such possibility – say yes to it!  Two years ago when I went back to the Netherlands with the goal to find a job, I started a voluntary internship as a Junior Editor at the Dutch newspaper The Underground , where I wrote instructional articles for children. While being an intern, I realized that I love writing. It inspired me to create my personal blog C’est La Vie, Lily . This was the crucial point for me when I started to search employment in writing and editorial fields. It was then, when I discovered One Europe – which is not only a great European media, but also an organization which brings motivated individuals from all over Europe together. My activities at One Europe have already brought me numerous benefits. For example, I develop my technical skills by dealing with a content management system, also I get an insight into many fields by editing articles. Besides, I got to know many interesting individuals filled with enthusiasm and determination to make a difference in the world. This made me realize that we can be one even by conducting virtual projects.

Additionally, my advice for job-seekers is: take a creative approach when writing motivation or cover letters for job application. Assume like you are preparing a little piece of work to be presented on exhibition, try to make it as unique as possible which will capture attention and make you distinguish from others. Imagine for a while that through this piece of work, you are going to win a great award (in this case, the award will be a job offer). This kind of tactic may give you motivation and it will inspire you to invest more enthusiasm in job application.

At this point, I would like to finalize my reflections on job seeking period. To all those who are presently searching for work opportunities, I wish that you find your dream job as soon as possible. And never lose your hope, even if at times it’s really hard to do so, because “The best is yet to come”.

There is a very inspirational saying "Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle happens" – let it be your motto. 

Visit Lilit's blog C'est La Vie, Lily

Edited by Hanna Starchyk