If you are unemployed, you are probably feeling desperate. Being out-of-work is one of the top five ego-destroying emotions.

Your lifestyle is threatened. You are reevaluating your spending, where you shop and studiously comparing prices on private-label food products.

But it’s time to get and stay busy. Looking for work is a full-time job.

1. Lean into your pain from being laid-off or being under-employed. Understand grieving is part of the process for growth and it takes time to heal. The three stages of healing: Shock-denial, anger-depression, and understanding-acceptance.

2. Get out of the house daily. Do your homework and cold call companies to make an appointment where you’d like to work. Continue to exercise and perform community service. All three will increase your morale.

The reward of high morale, alone, is worth it. Again, budget some time for volunteer work — you’ll be amazed by the people you’ll meet and the opportunities that will unfold. It’s guaranteed to make you smile.

3. Assess your strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to analyze your interpersonal skills, too. Employers prefer teamwork and soft skills.

4. Market yourself effectively. By building on your strengths, you will be prepared to tell prospective employers how they will benefit from hiring you. They want to hear how you will save them time and money while helping them to make a dollar. For that you need a great elevator pitch.

5. Polish your resume. Your contact information should be at the top of the page and then followed by a realistic objective, and a summary of why you’re qualified. Think like a recruiter – why should someone hire you? Employers want to know your skills, experience, and successes. Mention specific achievements that would be important to your prospective employer. Subdued, easy-to-read font on white or off-white, good quality bond paper is preferable.

6. Hone your career-management skills. Make a list of people to see and include your public officials at all levels. They are great centers of influence and are cognizant about economic-development efforts. Personally visit each office to make an appointment.

One technique that worked very well for me as a young job seeker: Seek the opinion of managers about your career two levels above your skill level. They are not intimidated by great skills and your potential worth to their company. At the end of the appointment, ask for referrals to other executives. But if they hire you, they likely will take you with them up the employment ladder.

7. Be open-minded and consider options, including abroad. If you are mobile, consider working in a foreign country. In this age of globalization, future employers will be impressed that you know how to conduct yourself in a foreign country.

8. Consider a new field. The best available jobs include information technology, medical and even retail sectors. And great employers can never get enough good salespeople. If you need a career change, here are 10 steps for a career makeover.

9. Make it easy to contact you. Be mobile with as much digital capability as you can. While out and about, take advantage of wireless e-mails at coffee houses and libraries, but be security-minded. Don’t use a device on WIFI that contains your sensitive personal information. If you can budget it, a broadband device from your cell phone service is best if you expect to send e-mails and resumes. Otherwise, a smartphone is OK in a pinch. Forward calls to your cell phone.

10. Use the Internet. Get online – not to search job boards, but to go on offense. Applying at job boards is probably a waste of time. The competition is too great and it’s too easy to be screened out. If you find an ideal job opening and you’re required to apply on the company’s site, here are five tips to shine in your online job application.

Create an edge by building a Web site, blogging, and leveraging social networks from LinkedIn to Twitter. (Here are seven tips to tweet your way to a great new job.)

11. Consider temporary staffing services or freelancing. Avoid collecting unemployment. Take work either at a temporary service or freelancing gig – you will be better off emotionally. If you perform well, it’s probable that one of the companies where you’re assigned will hire you away from the staffing company. All the company has to do is pay a “liquidation fee” to the staffing firm.

12. Accept any opportunity until you get the right job. The only exception, of course, is when you’re skilled in a high-demand occupation. Look for the positives, and how you can parlay a job into a better situation at your prospective employer. If you’re resourceful, you’ll attract options you never thought possible.

Remember standing in line at the unemployment office will only put you in a position to network with other unemployed folks. Taking what appears to be only a temporary job enables you to network, build your resume, maintain your work ethic, strengthening your self confidence, and best of all – earning a paycheck.

13. Get a mentor. Find someone who has the success you want for personalized one-on-one strategies.

14. Body language. When you land the big interview, remember the employer thinks you’ve got the necessary tools. It is your opportunity to assure the company that you will solve its needs and that you’ll fit into the culture. You only have a few seconds to make a favorable first impression with a warm voice, direct answers, a smile, and good body language. To err in being too formal is preferred over being too casual. Sit erect, feet on the floor, comfortable hand-placement in your lap, and maintain good eye contact.

15. Attitude of gratitude. The best time to schedule an interview is the first earliest available appointment — preferably right after the company opens for business. Why? Interviewers give higher marks to applicants interviewed early in the day.

When you get an interview, a well-written thank you letter will help you stand out in a crowd. Write anyone who helps you. Mail a thank you letter immediately after each interview so that the employer hears from you the next business day. Mention a specific topic from the interview and include a bonafide compliment for the company. Reiterate the benefits of hiring you. Thank the interviewer for her or his consideration. Prevent buyer’s remorse by reassuring the reader you will provide the necessary results the company expects.

If you have not heard from the employer, it is businesslike to make a follow-up telephone call in five business days. Your odds will be enhanced once the company has had five positive contacts or interactions with you.

Conclusion

Being unemployed is not easy, but as long as you make an effort to stay productive and keep open to new opportunities, you will be fine – you might even come out stronger.

The moral: Layoffs are really stepping stones as opportunities for personal and professional growth.

From the Coach’s Corner, to improve your selling ability to employers, here’s related reading:

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

-Japanese Proverb

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

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