I always tell my career center orientation attendees that they should get out of the house every day when they’re on the job search. Silly as it sounds, I can’t think of a better piece of advice. It’s so simple, yet it can be a game changer.
I know that some of the attendees are sitting behind their computers until their eyes ache. I also know it’s not healthy to be alone with one’s despondency. Been there.
When I tell them, “Get out of the house,” some laugh and nod with approval. Others look at me with interest, and others with amusement. But this advice is perhaps the most important message they’ll leave with.
Having been out of work myself for six months more than 12 years ago, I understand how important it is to leave the house and escape the computer, the kids, the television, the cleaning – all of it.
You know the saying: “If I knew then what I know now…” So let me offer you some suggestions for getting out of the house.
1. Go Where People Are
If this means going to your local career center, a library, Panera Bread, Starbucks, a park – then do it. Being around people has a therapeutic effect. Hearing the voice of others provides you with the distraction you need to avoid falling into the deep well of despondency. It can combat the loneliness you may feel when you’re cooped up at home.
2. Go to the Gym or Take Long Walks
How you prefer to exercise and let off steam is up to you. I find walking to be a great way both to clear my mind and to strategize about what I need to do. When I was out of work, I increased my walking regiment from 45 minutes a day to 90 minutes. I walked and walked and walked. Bonus: It’s free.
3. Coordinate a Small Networking Meeting
Also known as a “meetup.” This might mean gathering with other professionals who share your interests, such as project managers who have an interest in or knowledge of Lean Six Sigma. A meetup might be for educational purposes, but it is also a great way to connect with people and share employment possibilities.
4. Attend Networking Events
For some people, networking is a bit intimidating. Attending a few networking events will help you get the hang of it. If you need to stay back and listen at first, that’s fine. Eventually, you’ll feel more comfortable and be able to network with relative ease.
Tip: If you’re uncomfortable going alone, bring a friend or two with you.
5. Volunteer at an Organization That Needs Your Talents
You’ve probably heard a great deal about how volunteering is great for your job search. And you probably think, “Why should I offer my services for free?”
I get your concern. Who wants to work without getting paid? But think about it logically. By volunteering, you can enhance the skills you possess while possibly learning new skills. Plus, according to Forbes, volunteering increases your chances of getting a job by 27 percent.
6. Ask for Networking Meetings
I call these “networking meetings” instead of “informational interviews” for a reason. When you ask someone for an informational interview, they may not react very positively. If, on the other hand, you ask for advice, you’re more likely to receive a warm welcome.
When you ask for a networking meeting, make it clear that you’re interested in gathering some information about a new career related to the industry, not in getting a job out of it.
As simple as it sounds, getting out of your house can greatly help your job search. Getting away from the computer or television can help heal your fragile state and gives you more opportunities to network. I strongly suggest you dress business casual when you’re out and about and present a positive attitude. You never know when you’ll meet a potential employer.
Also keep in mind that your job search is important and that others’ needs will have to take a backseat to your activities. You can’t watch the kids or grandchildren when you have a workshop or networking event to attend. You have to meet with a networking colleague for coffee – no questions asked.
In other words: be selfish.
A version of this article originally appeared on Things Career Related.
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center.