Unemployment’s Silver Lining

For members currently without full-time work and seniors fearful of the economy, take heart – there is a silver lining to unemployment. I’m living it.

If you’re like me, you’re passionate about one communications niche. After interning for the Philadelphia Flyers, experiencing the rush of working the Stanley Cup Final and, as a result, recognizing my passion for the hockey industry, it’s hard for me to look at much else. Yet the sports world is, by far, one of the most challenging nuts to crack.

If you’re still like me, you’re not giving up on that passion, despite the odds. Rather than camping out on the couch waiting for the next job listing to pop up, take steps to stay active professionally and use your time to the fullest.

Before you look at the list below, remember to stay positive. If it’s doing yoga, going to church or chatting with an old friend, find a way to maintain an optimistic attitude. Rejection (or no response at all) from potential employers can get discouraging very quickly. Combat this by surrounding yourself with people who provide solid advice and activities that help you achieve your goals.

Here are five tips to make the most of your free time:

1. Work with what you’ve got. If you have contacts in your chosen field, don’t be afraid to use them. In a confident, not-desperate way, be specific about your needs and what you’re looking for. Be sure to thank them often as they help you find a job.

2. Broaden your network. Ask your contacts if they can put you in touch with other professionals who can benefit you long-term and during your job search. Attend area networking events, even if they’re more general than your desired career path, to meet new people. Check out free webinars and online conferences, and start talking to potential mentors and employers on Twitter.

3. Learn a new skill. Somehow, in the midst of my four years of college (and four years of high school), I never learned to use Adobe Photoshop as proficiently as InDesign. Now that I have time, I’m working through Adobe’s Classroom in a Book chapter by chapter. If you missed out on a specific skill during college, dedicate time to methodically learn it. [Extra tip: If you apply for jobs and see a pattern of skills you don’t have listed as specific requirements, make them your first priority.]

4. Add depth to your portfolio. Find a way to produce professional-quality work in your chosen field. Many industries, like sports, lend themselves extremely well to blogging. Other industries may require freelancing. Find whichever avenue works best, and go after it. Look for flexibility, as your priority still needs to be finding full-time work. And, ensure that whatever you’re working on ties back to communications in some clear way, thereby truly boosting your portfolio.

5. Take a break. Go on vacation, check out a museum, read a book – no matter your financial status, you can find ways to kick back and relax. The job search is draining, so take time to recharge. Enjoy your time off from full-time work.

Did you find these tips helpful? What others do you have for using free time well?

Rebecca Timms is the immediate past president for the 2010–2011 PRSSA National Committee, having served as National President from 2009–2010. She graduated from Rowan University in May 2010 with a degree in public relations and minor in journalism, and is pursuing a career in ice hockey communications.


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11 Responses to Unemployment’s Silver Lining

  1. Kim Ciesla August 12, 2010 at 9:57 am #

    Great post, Becca! I think a lot of people wonder where to go after graduation. You’re lucky that you’ve found your niche, but you’re inspiration to those of us who haven’t. 🙂 Good luck!

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    Rebecca Timms Reply:

    Thanks, Kim!

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  2. Sarah Black August 12, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    So reassuring to know I’m not the only one! Number 4 is particularly important, as it keeps your skills sharp, and you’ll never know who you’ll meet while you’re doing it. Also, in this economy, a lot of people really appreciate the volunteer (or minimum wage) help.

    Something else I’ve done is taken this time to make a “New Years Resolution”-style list. I’ve started running, which is probably something I would not have done if I had been busy acclimating to a new job. It’s also a huge confidence-booster and stress reliever when I get down to business and apply to jobs.

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    Rebecca Timms Reply:

    All great ideas, Sarah! I love the New Years Resolution – nothing like a little free time to start good habits.

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  3. Lindsay Kwek August 12, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    I’m going through the exact same thing! Couldn’t have said it better myself! I’ve found my niche as well: event planning. I won’t settle till I’ve found something in that field. In the meantime…taking a break turned out to be an excellent idea 🙂

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    Rebecca Timms Reply:

    Glad to hear it, Lindsay! Good luck in your search – keep at it.

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  4. Tom Woltjen August 12, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    Great Post Rebecca and best of luck! That had to be soo cool working the Stanley Cup! Go Flyers but for now lets root in those Phillies!

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    Rebecca Timms Reply:

    Thanks, Tom!

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  5. Kion Sanders August 13, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    Excellent post, Rebecca. My favorite quote I live by is from my bishop and it reads, “If your passion is married to your ability, success will follow.” As we all know, you’re indeed married to your passion and success is right around the corner. Thanks for being such a positive example for so many future PR pros.

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    Rebecca Timms Reply:

    Thanks so much, Kion. It’s true! The road has its bumps, but when you know you’re heading in the right direction, it’s a path you know is worth the challenge.

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  6. Locate IC's Semiconductors August 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    That is very good advice and a great list, thank you. I am going to begin going through each and every one of them. The “contacts” is scary but I’m going to give it a shot.

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