You have read every book about how to hunt for a job and you follow the advice religiously. You have updated, revised, edited and buffed your résumé until it shines - individualizing it for every position you apply for. You send out dozens of letters and applications a week. You have created LinkedIn and Facebook pages that portray you as the consummate professional and you blog and tweet on an hourly basis. You are a regular at every job fair in your area. You read multiple newspapers just for the help wanted ads and news of any businesses that might be hiring. You troll the online job recruiting sites like a stalker following his favorite celebrity. You are doing everything you are supposed to do and you are still can't find a job. Now what?
The average length of unemployment for workers 55 and older was more than 52 weeks as of August 2011. Of the 14 million people out of work for six months or more, 55 percent were 55 or older, according to AARP. All the books say treat your job hunt like a job. But you cannot hunt for a job eight hours a day, five days a week. So how are you supposed to keep your sanity when your job search is making you crazy?
Your first goal: Stay positive and try not to panic. Determine a schedule for your job hunt and dedicate those hours to your search. You can put the rest of your time to productive use, which does not include watching TV or playing video games.
Take classes. Look into free or inexpensive classes that will help you learn new skills to include on your résumé. You can brush up your computer skills, learn a language or finally learn how to do something you've always wanted to try.
De-clutter your house. Have a yard sale to make some extra money. Sell online anything you couldn't get rid of in the yard sale, and if you can't sell something, give to a charity. Throw away broken things that can't be fixed or junk you don't need or want any more, so it's no longer taking up space.
Plant a garden. It will help you feed your family, get your mind off finding work for a little while, and give you some exercise.
Make small, simple repairs and improvements around the house that you never had time to do before.
Set up a regular exercise routine. It will help you deal with stress, while helping you remain healthy and fit.
Volunteer. Helping someone who is less fortunate than you is a great way to gain perspective. You can add your volunteer experience to your résumé and may even find new job possibilities.
Most importantly, talk to people, and not just in a networking capacity. You may find people will not know what to say to you. You can help them to help you by honestly telling them how you feel and what you need from them - either a sympathetic ear as you vent or positive encouragement. If you find you're spending much of your time with other unemployed people, try to keep the conversation positive.
Looking for a job is one of the toughest jobs out there. Staying positive is vital, even though that's seems impossible. Too many of us define ourselves by our jobs. While you look for a job, you have the chance to redefine who you are, instead of what you do.
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