Being laid off can easily be one of the most stressful experiences of your life. With unemployment comes worry, stress and an awful lot of hassle. But it can also be one of the most positive experiences you’ll ever have. By following these tips, you can turn your unemployment into a new, exciting career opportunity.

Avoid Social Media

When you first receive the news of your unemployment, the temptation is to take to social media and air all of your grievances. It may make you feel better temporarily, but it could harm your employment chances in the long run.

Potential employers often check up on interviewees on social media sites like Facebook, and if they see you being negative they will probably be put off. Instead, limit your complaints to close friends who won’t share your comments with others.

Don’t Sign Anything Straight Away

Your former employers may ask you to sign some forms when you’re on your way out, and you may want to sign them quickly just to get them out of the way so you can leave. However, take the time to sit and read the forms carefully because they may contain clauses and terms that you don’t agree with. If you don’t understand them, ask your lawyer to explain.

Use Your Health Insurance If You Still Have It

If you can, take advantage of your company’s health insurance. If you’ve been putting off small issues, such as dental work or health checkups, now is the perfect time to address them. You’ll have more time, and doing so will get you into peak physical condition for working toward your next position. If you’re no longer covered, investigate whether you’re eligible for COBRA, which entitles some unemployed people to health benefits.

Cut Back On Expenses

While between jobs, you’ll obviously have a much reduced income. Now is the time to review your expenses to see what can be cut back or eliminated. Removing your small daily luxuries, such as a daily Starbucks coffee or TV subscriptions, might be difficult, but it will be worth it in the long run. Remember, once you’re back on your feet, you can always indulge again.

Don’t Immediately Jump Back Into Job Hunting

As you’ve been laid off, it seems obvious that you should jump straight back into job hunting to avoid a gap on your resume and a loss of income. Instead, give yourself some time to recuperate and make plans for your next step.

Reflect on exactly why you were let go. Were you not offering enough value to the company, or were they attempting to cut costs due to hard times? Once you’ve made a decision about what you want to do next, start exploring your options. Volunteering or taking on an internship may be a valuable use of your time and a step toward your next dream job.

Consider Developing New Skills

Use your current free time to brush up on your existing skills, or develop some new ones. One of the few benefits of unemployment is that it offers you the time and space to take classes and volunteer in your chosen field. This makes you more marketable to future employers.

Update Your Online Persona

Once you’ve decided what your next step is, now is the time to begin updating your social media profiles. Spruce up your profiles to make yourself as attractive as possible to potential employers. If you prefer, you can always set your profiles to private. At this time, you can reach out to your social media contacts and discover any available opportunities.

Make Looking For a Job Your New Job

Now that you’ve taken some time off, decided what you want to do next, and developed some new skills, you can finally get back to job hunting. You may not be able to spend eight hours a day looking for work, but you certainly need to make it your top priority. It’s a competitive market at the moment, so you need to make yourself recognizable.

Being laid off can be a distressing and discouraging time, but it’s also a turning point. Choose to see it as the chance to take a time out, reflect, and work out what you really want from your career.

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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