Home Career The Between-Jobs Slump: Coping & Next Steps
The Between-Jobs Slump: Coping & Next Steps

The Between-Jobs Slump: Coping & Next Steps


No matter how good you are, how positive your outlook – eventually, the between-job slump is going to happen to you. You will find yourself with one job ending for whatever reason, be it redundancy, change of role, or the company closing down. You don’t have a new job lined up to replace it. So now there’s a gap in your life where your working life used to be. Of course, knowing that it’s pretty much guaranteed to happen to you at some point doesn’t make it any easier to cope with in the moment.

The period between jobs can be incredibly difficult to handle. Without the metronome of a working life, it’s easy to fall into bad habits. It’s also easy to make terrible decisions about your future, because you are scrabbling around for something to fill the time. You might jump into another job that’s totally unsuitable, purely because you don’t want to be unemployed for any length of time. Or you can decide to embark on a desire to travel the world, which sounds nice in the moment, but might not be feasible in the long run.

Coping with this time in life is all about making the right decisions at the right time. To try and help with that, here is an assembled guide to consider. Not only does it cover the things you should be thinking about, but the order in which it’s preferable to do them. While it might not be applicable to every single circumstance, there should be a few nuggets here that everyone should be able to take something from.

PHASE ONE: Damage Control

With one job ending, your immediate concern will have to be financial.

Hopefully, you will have already planned for this eventuality in some way. You might have savings, be able to rely on your partner, know that your parents will help you – anything that ensures you’re still going to be able to eat and have a roof over your head. If you have been made redundant through no fault of your own, then you may have a severance package which can help tide you over.

If you don’t have any of those things, then there’s no denying that life is going to be trickier. It’s worth looking for government assistance to ensure you’re not endangering yourself during the between-jobs period; just remember it’s only a temporary measure.

No matter which option you have in front of you, in every scenario the reduction in income is going to have to be addressed. Firstly, go through your outgoings and get rid of everything that you can in terms of subscriptions and services. This is the time for some prudence, tough as it may be to go without your Netflix subscription until you get back on your feet.

You then need to examine your spending. Look for ways to reduce your grocery bill or learn to haggle to make sure you’re always getting the best deal you can. If this kind of scrimping and saving doesn’t come naturally to you, be reassured that it’s only going to be for a few months. These steps are going to mean you don’t just have to jump wildly into any job that will take you – you’re going to be able to make progressive, viable decisions regarding your future choices. Going without for awhile to further that goal seems worth it, don’t you think?

PHASE TWO: Assessment

When it comes to figuring out your next steps, you need to know what you’re working with.

The longer that you had been at your previous job, the more work is going to be required in this stage. While we’re constantly advised to, very few of us work on our resumé and training when we’re in a job. A lot of that is because we just don’t have time; trying to work a full-time job, have a social life, have time to relax and ensure our resumé is sparkling and up-to-date? It’s just not possible.

However, when you’re between jobs, you have the luxury of being able to assess how employable you are. Your first step should be to tidy up your resumé; it needs to be up-to-date and cover all the essential information. This is also a good time to contact people to ask for references, the details of whom should be included on the resumé if possible.

If you have a decent relationship with your previous employer, it’s worth contacting them and asking for realistic feedback on your performance. Are there any areas you need to improve? Anything that you particularly excelled at, and thus can emphasize as a positive when looking for new roles? Some of the feedback might be tough to hear, but how can you know the areas you need to improve without a dose of reality?

When you know where your stand, it might be worth looking to see if there’s something you can do to jazz up your resumé.

PHASE THREE: Improvement

With your resumé compiled and some areas lacking, your next step is to see where you can add a little flavor to it.

Often, extra skills or something unique could be just what you need to stand out from the crowd. You could look for additional courses and qualifications that are very specific to your niche. For example, if you work in digital marketing, you could take a course to improve your knowledge of SEO.

Alternatively, you could work on your resumé to make it appear more rounded. This involves looking for skills and qualifications that might not be directly related to a specific job, but instead show that you are able to turn your talents to many different areas. For example, you could look to undertake a CPR certification online, obtain a minor qualification in web design, or work on athletic accomplishments like colored belts in karate. These show a different side to you and can, importantly, help your application stand out from the thousands of others that a recruiter will see every year.

PHASE FOUR: Engagement

There is no point scanning the job ads in the hope that your dream role is going to pop up. There is no harm in sending your newly-polished resumé to companies on a speculative basis. All you need to do is attach a cover letter outlining why you think you would be a good fit for their company, and asking they consider you should anything become available. It’s not guaranteed to get a response, but it’s a much better idea than just sitting around and hoping.

PHASE FIVE: Applications

When it comes to actual applications, try not to rush and snatch anything that looks decent. There are two types of jobs that you should be applying for, depending on how urgent your financial situation is.

The “For Now” Job

A “for now” job is one that is relatively easy to obtain – there’s no lengthy recruitment process and it doesn’t tend to require any specialist qualifications. Often, it will be in retail or the hospitality industry. Its primary function is to ensure you have enough money to live on while you look for a job that is more suited to your specific skillset.

This type of job should ideally –

  • Not be full-time. If you take a “for now” job that commandeers 40 hours a week, that leaves precious few remaining hours for you to job hunt and attend interviews. Ideally, the shifts will be flexible and still leave plenty of chance for you to look for your next career move.
  • Be simple – you don’t want to have to devote a huge amount of time and brainpower to learning something incredibly difficult.
  • Be convenient. A lengthy commute is something that you might be willing to consider for your dream job, but for a stand-in job that you’re hopefully not going to be in for more than six months? It’s not a good idea. Your governing principle for this job should be “simple, accessible, and convenient”.

The Next Big Step

If you don’t have the financial pressures to immediately go and find another source of income, then you have the luxury of time. You have the chance to evaluate your resumé on a deep level, potentially even considering going back to school to improve your chances of future advancement.

If you’re in this situation, try and look for jobs of a caliber that you would have left your previous job for. Is the money better, the outlook, the possibility for advancements? Or would you have rather remained in your old job rather than pursue this opportunity? This should help you distinguish between the jobs that are actually good and viable choices for you, and which you might be best putting to the bottom of the pile.

PHASE SIX: Patience

Finally, patience is a vital component to ensuring your strategy for the future works for you. The between-jobs slump is rough; there’s no doubt about it. However, try and remember that it’s temporary. It may also lead to opportunities that you otherwise would have missed and chances you might have had to decline – so make the most of the possibilities.

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