2016 was a year with many casualties. And no, we’re not talking about roadkill here, but about the legions of Singapore employees who got retrenched. Redundancies hit a 7-year high in 2016, and only 47.9% managed to get a job within 6 months of their retrenchment. The unemployment rate at the end of 2016 was at a six-year high.
This means there are more people desperately looking for jobs than there’ve been in many years. If that’s happened to you, it can be tempting to put your life on hold until you find a new job, or to crawl under the covers, only emerging for toilet breaks and to email companies your resumé.
But this period of joblessness actually gives you a chance to do many of the things you never had the time for when you were tied to a job. Here are four things you should do before alongside your job hunt.
Do something you always wanted to do but never had the time for
Let’s face it—when you were working, there just wasn’t that much time to live life to the fullest. Long working hours, inflexible bosses and a less-than-generous annual leave entitlement might have left you feeling like a caged bird.
In between trawling through job listings, you’ll have copious amounts of free time that you can now use to do something you always wanted to but never had the time for. Perhaps you’ve been telling yourself you should finally pick up photography seriously, start running, read that stack of books on your bedside table or learn to code. Now’s your chance.
Keep your mind and body healthy
As tempting as it might be to spend the next 6 months until you find a new job watching Korean drama serials in your room, make the effort to keep your mind and body healthy. You’ve never had so much time to prepare healthy meals, get regular exercise and get adequate sleep, so make the most of it.
Exercising and eating healthy can have a profound effect on your mental health, which in turn will help you to keep giving the job hunt your best shot and make you look and sound better when you network and attend interviews.
Set a daily schedule for your job search
Unless you can afford to languish without a job for the rest of the year, you should be feeling the heat to search for job listings and apply for positions. You might be overwhelmed by the feeling that you should be job hunting every second of the day, even when you’re eating, taking a dump or sleeping. Needless to say, this can take a toll on your mental health.
On the other hand, there are those who are too relaxed and apply for the odd position here and there, but otherwise are so disorganised they can’t keep track of where they’ve applied to and when to follow up.
The above problems are solved if you treat job hunting like a job. Set aside a window of a few hours every day where you do nothing but browse job listings and make applications. You might also want to give yourself a quota so you apply for at least a minimum number of jobs each day. Use an Excel spreadsheet to tabulate the jobs you’ve applied for and the dates, so you know when to follow up.
And once the job hunting slot on your timetable is over, you’re free to enjoy the rest of the day without worrying.
Get in touch with old contacts
Lost count of the number of times you soullessly mouthed, “We should catch up” without really meaning it? Well, now’s the time to send your long-lost contacts a text to say hi, and invite them out for a coffee.
As a jobless person, your network is your most valuable resource right now. You need all the lobang you can get, so now is not the time to hole yourself up in your room for fear of “losing face”. You want to get out there and tell everyone you’re looking for a job.
Getting some social interaction will also stop you from feeling like you’re going nuts alone at home. To avoid spending too much money, limit your outings to coffee or drinks while avoiding full meals, or pick shared activities like a game of badminton when asking friends out.
Have you ever been retrenched? Share your survival tips in the comments!