The Best Thing To Do When You're Between Jobs

by Natalia Lusinski
Ashley Batz/Bustle

Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it. According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 Millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. Bustle's Get Money series gets real about what Millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your finances should feel empowering, not intimidating.

Isn't it the worst when you're between jobs?! One minute, you're working too much, and the next, you're almost missing those long hours at the office. But what are the best things to do when you're between jobs, job-wise, money-wise, and overall life-wise? After all, even though you probably should be job-hunting and tweaking your resume and writing cover letter after cover letter, that doesn't mean you are day in and day out. So, the question is: Are you doing everything you possibly can to maximize your between-jobs time?

"The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath," Cameron Huddleston, Life + Money columnist for, tells Bustle. "You'll likely bounce back faster if you can stay calm and stay focused on what needs to be done to get by until you find a new job. Your plan should include smart money moves and finding ways to replace the income of you've lost — file for unemployment benefits, take advantage of any career counseling or outplacement services your former employer might offer, and let people know you're on the market."

What About A Side Job While You're Looking?

You may have already had a #SideHustle in addition to your full-time job. However, if not, now's the time to find one, and finding a side hustle is not as intimidating as it may sound! And there are many easy side hustles you can do for extra money, especially while you're between jobs! "Look for a part-time job that will help you pay the bills, but give you enough time to search for a new full-time job," Huddleston says. However: "Also look closely at your spending to see what can be cut so you can get by on less," she says. "Don't ditch your Internet service, because you'll probably need it to find a new job. But nonessential expenses such as cable TV, restaurant meals, and nights out can be eliminated for a while. If you can afford it, though, hang onto your health coverage through COBRA, the federal law that requires employers with 20 or more employees to continue offering insurance to workers who leave their jobs. If a health emergency strikes and you don't have insurance, your finances could take a major hit."

Below, you'll find even more ideas on what you should do between jobs.


Budget, Budget, Budget

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When you're between jobs, a very good motivator to start seriously job-hunting is your bank balance. The lower it gets without getting higher every week or two like it once did, the more you're reminded that, right, you need a new job! So what do you do with a decreasing bank balance? Budget. "Stick to a budget," ZipRecruiter's CEO, Ian Siegel, tells Bustle. "Money can be an inevitable stressor when you're out of a job and still have to keep up with your expenses — paying your rent and buying food and groceries. However, there are a few ways you can make money, even when you're between jobs."


Stick To A Schedule

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OK, how many of you are guilty of intending to look for a new job, morning till night, but then reality sets in… and you've suddenly slept in (until 2 p.m.!), then need to eat breakfast lunch, then check emails, Facebook, Twitter, and why not Instagram, too, then decide to watch just *one* episode of 13 Reasons Why… and then, 13 episodes later, it's suddenly time for bed. "Tomorrow's a new day," you think. However, tomorrow brings new distractions — and, TBH, new shows to watch — and you're not any closer to having a new job than you were today. Hence, the importance of having a schedule.

"It's easy to get sidetracked and feel like you're in vacation mode without your regular 8-5 work schedule to keep you in check," Siegel says. "Put together a daily list of tasks that will keep you on top of things. Set goals and stick to them. Whether it's applying to a certain number of jobs a week, staying on top of your workouts, and/or being mindful of your sleep, it's important to maintain a schedule."

Jenna Goudreau, Managing Editor of Make It, CNBC's new site focusing on all things money, agrees. "Lack of routine is a key reason losing a job can make you feel lost, since a job generally brings a predictable schedule and sense of purpose," she tells Bustle. "The simple solution is to create a transition routine for yourself. Go ahead and write it out or put it on your calendar. It should include a normal wakeup and bedtime, large chunks of time for applying to jobs, some built in time for reaching out to contacts, and a set time for exercising and eating. Do get dressed everyday and consider working from a coffee shop, which will help you compartmentalize your days."


Don't Apply For Every Job That's Available

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The opposite of the person who procrastinates the day away is the person who applies to any and every job they see online. Sound familiar? But that's not necessarily the best method for finding a new job either. "When searching for a new opportunity, make sure you're not applying to every job that's available," Nicole Wood, CEO and Co-Founder at Ama la Vida, tells Bustle. "It's important for you to decide what type of role you want to be in and what type of company you want to work for. Once you've figured that out, it's important to know what the role will expect of you, how your expertise will help the company in a specific role, the company's background, projects they are currently working on, and so on."


Tap Into Your Talents

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When you're between jobs, it's a great time to remember what you're good at. Even rereading and revamping your resume can provide you with an ego boost and a great reminder of all that you've done. Right, I did that, and Right, I LOVED doing that! "This is the perfect time to discover yourself by tapping into your interests, skills, and goals," Siegel says.

Wood has similar advice. "Remember what makes you special and valuable," she says. "Try to think of things you get complimented for or areas you excelled at in your past roles. If you're struggling to identify your gifts, enlist the support of a career coach or explore Ama la Vida's online career program."


Start Your Job Hunt ASAP

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I know — whether you quit your last job, were laid off, or the project you worked on simply ended, you may want some down time to do… nothing! However, that may not be best for you and your career path. "You want to start your job hunt as soon as possible, since prolonged unemployment can raise red flags with hiring managers," Goudreau says. "If your former company offered career coaching to help you through the transition, take it. If not, focus on updating your resume, revamping your social media presence, and identifying the types of jobs or companies that could be right for you."

Siegel agrees about not letting too much time go by, at least on your resume. "Job seekers are constantly concerned about gaps on their resume, but there are ways to avoid this," he says. "Show employers that you choose to be a go-getter even when you have extra time on your hands. Engage in simple activities, such, as local volunteering, joining a club, or taking a class, or maybe even start building your own website just for fun!"

Liz Wessel, CEO of WayUp, also believes that time is not on the job seeker's side. "Be diligent on your search,and apply quickly," she says. "Sign up for newsletters and job notifications to keep you in the loop. On WayUp, we actually send you customized updates when a job is posted that matches your specific qualifications and interests, so that you don’t miss out on any good opportunities."


Stay Productive

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As Siegel says above, sticking to a schedule is key when you're between jobs. So, too, is staying productive. "Proactivity is the name of the game," he says. "Always be on the lookout for things to do, immerse yourself with new opportunities, and stay healthy, physically and mentally."

Wessel shares Siegel's sentiment. "If you're in between roles, you should stay productive and be looking for opportunities to learn — through Meetups, webinars, and more," she says. "For instance, at WayUp, we host frequent Facebook Live sessions with leaders from top companies, like Capital One and Unilever, so that our community can learn about certain industries or roles."

Goudreau, too, agrees about the importance of staying productive. "It may take some time to sink in [that you no longer have a job], and that's normal. But don't wallow for too long or you'll get stuck."


Get Creative

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You've probably have heard stories about friends who have gotten jobs nontraditional ways, and it can happen to you, too. While everyone else may be sending a random hiring manager an impersonal cover letter and resume, you might dig deeper and discover that the hiring manager went to your college. Or you may find that you both volunteered for the same charity race. Or you may realize that your friend knows the person. Whatever you do, get creative and don’t be like all the other applicants out there. "Think outside the box on ways you can get your foot in the door," Wood says. "It's not as easy as submitting a resume and securing a job offer. It's important for job seekers to attend events, network, and build personal relationships. Make yourself stand out from the competition and get creative."



Hannah Burton/Bustle

Speaking of getting creative when looking for new jobs, you can't forget about networking. I know — you may hate it. But it's a necessary evil, and one that can truly raise you a notch above your competition, or several. And networking isn’t limited to attending networking events and cocktail parties. It's also about talking to everyone you know, because you truly never know who they know.

"Personal connections and referrals are the most effective way to get an interview, so make sure you are sharing your interests and goals with family and friends to see if they know anyone that can help you get your resume in front of the right person," Wood says. "Also, utilize LinkedIn to see if you have any connections at a company you are interested in and ask for an intro. Recruiters, too, can be a powerful resource if you find the right one for you. Do some research to find the ones who specialize in your industry and make sure you're building strong relationships with your recruiter."

Goudreau, too, is all about using networking as a between-jobs tool. "You should start getting the word out that you're looking for a job among your friends, former colleagues, and business contacts," she says. "People are usually willing to help, but you have to let them know how to help you. Once you've identified jobs that might be a match, start applying. Remember to tailor your application to each job, and if you know someone who might have an in with the company, don't hesitate to ask. Referrals are the best way to get a hiring manager's attention, and oftentimes employees will get compensated for recommending someone who gets hired. It's good for you and them, so don't be shy about asking."

I don't know about you, but I think the above are ~great~ tips for anyone who's between jobs. And with the #SideHustle craze that seems to be going nowhere but up, with many side hustles turning into full-time ones and Millennial women becoming entrepreneurs, the job opp possibilities seem endless. Of course, if you do the above, this means that you won't be between jobs long. And that's the goal, right?!


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