Unemployment: Take This Opportunity to Improve Yourself

           While job searching will probably be the main focus of your days of unemployment, nobody can do that all day every day without their faces melting off Raiders of the Lost Ark-style. That’s why now is the perfect opportunity to invest in yourself. Learning a new skill, taking up a new hobby, or even just making yourself look better can not only keep your spirits up during the long months of job searching, they can actually end up making you more employable. Now that you’re unemployed, here are a few good ways to finish the sentence “If only I had a little more free time, I would…”

…get fit

            According to the LA Times, more than two thirds of Americans are overweight, with nearly half of those qualifying as obese. Unemployment, and the loss of self-esteem, sedentary lifestyle, and cheaper, fattier food choices that go along with it, can end up making it worse. Now that you’ve got the time, you can hit the gym every day to get trim the fat, get ripped, or just work out your stress. If you dropped your gym membership to cut costs, you can still keep in shape by running, riding your bike, buying some small hand weights, and practicing yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi at home. Once you get in the habit of regular workouts, you will start too feel more active, more capable, and healthier. Being in good shape can give you an edge with employers, and can even result in bigger paychecks.

…learn a new skill

            Did you ever find yourself wishing that you knew how to change your oil, or speed-read, or make your own mouthwash? Well this is the perfect time to learn. We pay other people to do things for us because they know how to do it better than we do. But when you learn those skills yourself, you become more self-reliant, more useful, and thriftier. Depending on the skill you learn, you can even become more employable. You can take free or low-cost classes at local community colleges to learn skills like bookkeeping, typing, and HTML, which are applicable to just about any business environment. And speaking of HTML…

…learn a new language

            As the world becomes increasingly globalized and interconnected, the only thing more valuable to companies than a competent employee is a complement employee that speaks a second language. Speaking to customers in their own language can be a huge advantage, and companies who work with ethnic demographics locally, or vendors overseas place a high value on people who know foreign languages. Rosetta Stone has become the standard DIY method for learning almost any language in the world. If you’re looking for cheaper alternatives, try the BBC’s language site to learn common European languages, as well as numerous podcasts and apps available on iTunes.

…learn to cook

            If you don’t already know how to grill a salmon, or bake your own bread, or make kung pao chicken like the pros, now is the perfect time to learn. While there is some controversy about whether cooking at home is cheaper than eating out, there are undeniable benefits to knowing what went into your food, where your ingredients came from, and whose hands have been all over them. Cooking is an art, and once you get the basic techniques down, you can start to improvise and create things that you can’t find in restaurants. And cooking is a skill that is sure to impress your friends, loved ones, and future co-workers, especially when you surprise them with a pan of homemade brownies.

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