How to stay productive when you’re between jobs

How To Stay Productive When You’re Between Jobs

Sometime in your career, you will find yourself between jobs, in other words, unemployed. It happens to the best of us for diverse reasons.

A gap in your resume does not have to be a red flag to your new employer.

So, what should you do when you’re between jobs? How should you spend your time?

Productivity is a habit, and it cuts across disciplines and fields of work. In essence, you don’t have to be employed before you are productive.

If you read up to here, it means you will eventually learn how to fully maximize your unemployed phase.

Any two of the tips below will help you use your unemployed-phase productively:

Take a Class

Acquire a skill. Learn something new. Learning something new has an immeasurable advantage to you. It broadens your knowledge base; it can even get you a new and better job by adding to your skillset.

The advent of E-learning has made learning a lot easier and more efficient to accomplish. You can now take courses online and get certifications your new employer will recognize.

Here are some of the platforms you can take online courses EDX, Udemy, Cousera, Shaw Academy, Hubspot Academy, Skillshare.

Volunteer

Most people think volunteering means you’re desperate. On the flip side, volunteering does better to you than harm when you’re between jobs.

The worst that will happen to you is a lack of pay. As a matter of fact, the workplace is more humane now than before, any organization that will accept you as a volunteer will take of your basic needs. Even if that doesn’t happen, volunteering gives you the needed experience and fills the gap of unemployment.

Follow a Job Platform

Job platforms increase your opportunity of finding a job. They keep you posted with new jobs that might be beneficial to you. Some even do as good as notify you of jobs around you. Job platforms to follow and register on include Recruiterng, Jobgurus, Myjobbag, Jobberman.

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is a platform where a lot of employers’ scout and search for talents for employment. A lot of candidate selection takes place on LinkedIn. Optimizing your LinkedIn will increase your chances of being found when there is a search.

Start a Business

Not everyone is cut out for being an entrepreneur. However, your unemployment window is a great time to start a business and find out.

To us, it is a win-win situation. If you start a business and discover you are not an entrepreneur, you would have gained certain negotiation and communication skills that will aid your new job; then the business can transform into a ‘side-hustle’ and become your extra source of income.

The whole idea of using your unemployment window for the above and more is to stay productive, it is to use that space of time of being out-of-job for something that will not just fill the space in your CV, but make you a better version of yourself. So, ensure to do what you can!

Emotional outbursts happen when someone is triggered by a statement, action or treatment doesn't sit well with them.

Dealing With Emotional Outbursts in the Workplace

Apart from churches, market places, public events, the workplace is the only other place where you can find a great number of individuals from a different ethnic, socio-political, religious and educational background in constant communication and contact.

Although diversity in the workplace inspires team building, productivity and knowledge sharing, it is not without its challenges – challenges such as flaring tempers, hurt feelings and random outburst.

Each organization has its own set of criers, the ones who wear their hearts on their sleeves and respond to frustration, sadness, or worry through tears. There are also those who scream at the slightest provocation, table pounders who are aggressively invested in every decision. These kinds of emotional outbursts are not just uncomfortable; they can put a team in jeopardy, stall productivity and limit innovation.

According to Team Effectiveness Advisor, Liane Davey, an emotional person should not be allowed to postpone, dilute, or drag out an issue that needs to be resolved. Instead, the outburst should be taken for what it is: a communication; because emotions are clues that the issue being discussed is touching on something the person values or believes strongly in. Davey maintained that the outburst gives three sets of information: emotional data; factual or intellectual data; and motives, values and beliefs.

Davey adds that Managers get stuck when they only focus on the first two — emotions and facts; which is easy to do. For instance, when someone starts yelling, people might think they’re insane (emotion) because their project had just been defunded (fact). Many managers stop there because they find feelings uncomfortable or aren’t sure how to deal with them. That’s why the first step is to become more self-aware by questioning one’s mindset around emotions. There are several myths that often get in a team leader’s way:

Myth #1: There is no place for emotion in the workplace. If you have humans in the workplace, you’re going to have emotions too. Ignoring, stifling, or invalidating them will only drive the toxic issues underground. This outdated notion is one reason people resort to passive-aggressive behaviour: emotions will find their outlet; the choice is whether it’s out in the open or in the shadows.

Myth #2: We don’t have time to talk about people’s feelings. Do you have time for backroom dealings and subterfuge? Do you have time for re-opened decisions? Do you have time for failed implementations? Avoiding the emotional issues at the outset will only delay their impact. And when people don’t feel heard, their feelings amplify until you have something really destructive to deal with.

Myth #3: Emotions will skew our decision making. Emotions are already affecting your decision making. The choice is whether you want to be explicit about how (and how much) of a role they play or whether you want to leave them as unspoken biases. With your beliefs in check, you’ll be better able to get beyond the emotion and facts to the values the person holds that are being compromised or violated. This is critical because your criers and screamers are further triggered when they don’t feel understood. The key is to have a discussion that includes facts, feelings, and values. People will feel heard and the emotion will usually dissipate. Then you can focus on making the best business decision possible.

Here’s how.

Spot the emotion: If you wait until the emotion is in full bloom, it will be difficult to manage. Instead, watch for the tell-tale signs that something is causing concern. The most important signals will come from incongruence between what someone is saying and what their body language is telling you. When you notice someone is withdrawing eye contact or getting red in the face, acknowledge what you see. “Steve, you’ve stopped mid-sentence a couple of times now. What’s going on for you?”

Listen: Listen carefully to the response, both to what is said and what you can infer about facts, feelings, and values. You will pick up emotions in language, particularly in extreme words or words that are repeated. “We have a $2 million budget shortfall and it’s our fourth meeting sitting around having a lovely intellectual discussion!” Body language will again provide clues. Angry (leaning in, clenched jaw or fists) looks very different from discouraged (dropping eye contact, slumping) or dismissive (rolling eyes, turning away).

Ask questions: When you see or hear the emotional layer, stay calm, keep your tone level and ask a question to draw them out and get them talking about values. “I get the sense you’re frustrated. What’s behind your frustration?” Listen to their response and then go one layer further by testing a hypothesis. “Is it possible that you’re frustrated because we’re placing too much weight on the people impact of the decision and you think we need to focus only on what’s right for the business?”

Resolve It: If your hypothesis is right, you’ll probably see relief. They might even express their pleasure “Yes, exactly!” You can sum it up “We’ve talked about closing the Cleveland office for two years and you’re frustrated because you believe that the right decision for the business is obvious.” You’ve now helped your team member articulate the values he thinks should be guiding the decision. The team will now be clear on why they are disagreeing. Three people might jump in, all talking at once “We are talking about people who have given their lives to this organization!” Here we go again…Use the same process to reveal the opposing points of view.

Once everyone is working with the same three data sets — facts, emotions, and values — you will be clear what you need to solve for, in this case, how will we weigh the financial necessity with the impact on people. Although taking the time to draw out the values might seem slow at first, you’ll see that issues actually get resolved faster. And ironically, as you validate emotions, over time people will tend to be less emotional as it’s often the suppressing of the emotions or trying to cobble together facts to justify them that was causing irrational behaviour.

If you’re leading a high performing team, you better be ready to deal with uncomfortable, messy, complex emotions. If there’s a situation you have failed to address because of an emotional team member, spend some time thinking about how you will approach it and then go have the conversation. Today. You can’t afford to wait any longer.

Culled from EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Handling Emotional Outbursts on Your Team by Liane Davey, Author, Leadership Solutions.

Fatigue refers to the feeling of exhaustion, drowsiness, or weariness that is brought upon by a lack of sleep, stress resulting from long periods of mental or physical activity, repetitive tasks or anxiety

FATIGUE IN THE WORKPLACE

A lot of organizations invest money in creating a conducive workplace for their employees, making available to them good seats, tables and computers too. They go as far as providing dining areas furnished with microwaves and refrigerators so that meals can be refrigerated and microwaved during lunch breaks, they do this believing that a conducive and work environment will bolster productivity.

However, there are some issues that the ambiance of the office is unable to shield employees from; one of such issues is fatigue in the workplace.

Fatigue refers to the feeling of exhaustion, drowsiness, or weariness that is brought upon by a lack of sleep, stress resulting from long periods of mental or physical activity, repetitive tasks or anxiety.

Causes of fatigue

The primary cause of fatigue is lack of sleep, but other factors such as long work hours, exposure to high temperatures and loud incessant noise have also been known to cause fatigue.

Types of fatigue

Fatigue can be acute or chronic. While acute fatigue occurs from short-term sleep loss, such as not getting enough sleep before going off to work the next day, chronic fatigue on the other hand results from a rather prolonged absence of sleep.

How does fatigue present itself?

Tiredness

Drowsiness

Memory lapses

Attention deficiency

Combating fatigue in the workplace

  • The first step is to create a work schedule or rota that give workers enough time to rest and recuperate between shifts.
  • For jobs that require employees to work long hours or overtime, consider that your workers will need enough time for other daily activities, such as commuting, preparing and eating meals and relaxing; And provide such amenities as meals, on-site accommodations and facilities where workers can nap either during the shift or before their commute back home.
  • Provide a work environment that has good lighting, comfortable temperatures, and reasonable noise levels.
  • Have your staff collaborate with different teams on a variety of projects to curb boredom arising from repetitive tasks.
  • Be flexible when assigning tasks.
"People who dress better are typically treated better at work," says David McKnight, a New York City-based image consultant. "They are usually given more responsibility and are shown much more respect."

THE RULES OF WORKPLACE STYLE

In today’s business-casual workplace and organizations operating from co-work spaces, suits and ties and formal dresses no longer seem to be the standard, not even in financial institutions; however, the way a person dresses to the workplace still matters and to a large extent determines how they will be spoken to and treated.

“People who dress better are typically treated better at work,” says David McKnight, a New York City-based image consultant. “They are usually given more responsibility and are shown much more respect.”

Here are tips on what to wear and what not to wear — so you can make the best impression on your boss, colleagues and clients.

Business casual isn’t a fashion free-for-all,” says Susan Bixler, president and founder of the Bixler Consulting Group. The Atlanta-based consultant has created guidelines for business-casual dress for those just starting out, workers at mid-career and those eyeing the executive suite.

The “baseline” look starts with the three Big Nos

  1. No flip-flops
  2. No jeans
  3. No visible tattoos

Yes to:

  1. Tailored trousers
  2. long-sleeve shirts or tops

The “midstream” look is similar but with an emphasis on higher-quality fabrics while the executive version ups the sartorial ante by recommending jackets for men and trouser-style suits for women.

“Any time you want to add authority, put on the jacket,” says Bixler, the author of seven books, including The New Professional Image: From Business Casual to the Ultimate Power Look.

The General Rule:

In journalism, the editor would always as you “leave out”, if you’re unsure; the rule is different when it comes to dressing and style. If you are to attend an interview or a business meeting and are unsure about the dress code, you should ask in advance, then again, you can’t possibly be faulted for appearing in a jacket or suit. Wearing a suit to an interview, meeting or work is a nonverbal way of communicating the fact that you are in for serious business.

Curb excesses.

Clothes that are too tight, overly generous makeup, too much jewelry, and accessories as well as ‘loud’ fragrance.

Never show up to work in shorts, ripped jeans (not even on a Friday)

Avoid wearing dusty, unpolished shoes to work.

When it comes to dressing, women have more options while the playing field for men is quite narrow and straightforward.

Too Much Skin

“Edgy looks, especially those involving the baring of cleavage, skin or tattoos, rarely cut it at the office, unless you happen to work in a trend-conscious field like advertising or fashion.

“When you’re not sure whether something is appropriate for work, then there’s a 98 percent chance that it’s not,” McKnight says.

The Whole Look

Choosing the right clothing is just one component of your professional look, which includes good grooming and hygiene, as well as being well-rested and mentally ready to face the day.

“There are so many things we don’t have control over, but what we can control is the image of professionalism we show to the world,” Bixler says.

Choosing a career path As interesting as it may sound, choosing a career path can be daunting as well as confusing for some people. The endless ‘what ifs’ that accompany deciding which field to go for or against could sometimes be exasperating.

Choosing A Career Path

As interesting as it may sound, choosing a career path can be daunting as well as confusing for some people.

The endless ‘what ifs’ that accompany deciding which field to go for or against could sometimes be exasperating. However, choosing a career is one of the most important decisions any individual would have to make at some point in their lives.

To make the right decision, careful consideration and meticulous planning is required, especially if one desires to land the job of a lifetime. To help you chart a course, we have outlined several tips.

Tips for Choosing a career path:

1.    Determine Your Skills
According to Career Advisor, Shay Nolan, there is a four-stage model of competence that aids skills to determine a person’s skills.
•    Unconscious incompetence
When a person does not know what they are good at, this is mostly, because they haven’t taken the time to evaluate their skills.
•    Unconscious competence
They are good at something to the point that they almost do it on autopilot. There is also a danger that they can become complacent here.
•    Conscious incompetence
They are not good at a particular thing and they know it! At the very least though, there is an awareness which can lead to skills development.
•    Conscious competence
They know what to do, though it takes some effort. This is where they want to be as there is both competence and awareness. This means that a person’s skills require a lot of consideration if they are to make well-informed career decisions. Ask some key questions:
What do I do really well?
What areas for development do I have?
What are the skills that I really enjoy using?
The final question represents an excellent starting point in terms of looking at how a person’s skills can help to inform what career path they should consider.

2.    Take Opportunities to Play the Field
A footballer who remains on the bench will never make a mark. Do not shy away from seizing opportunities whenever they present themselves, do not hesitate to participate in team-building activities that require you to put your skills to use.

3.    Aspire and Work to Reach Your Goal
Dream big, have confidence in your ability and constantly put your skills to work. Set goals for yourself – daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals and keep moving.

4.    Seek Career Contentment
When you love your job and work with a reliable team, you are more innovative and productive, your level of confidence soars and you are filled with a sense of purpose because you know you are adding value. This feeling of contentment does wonder for your morale, you will hardly get tired or bored with your job, instead, you will find yourself constantly exploring innovative ways to better your performance and outdo yourself.

Teamwork In The Workplace

“Teamwork is the process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal” – Business Dictionary - workplace, teamwork, career tips, career success, recruitment tips, work, office tips, corporate behavior, workplace ethics, soft skills, workplace skills

(3 Minutes Read)

There isn’t a more concise phrase that captures and explains teamwork better than the adage “Two heads are better than one”, every other explanation simply puts the adage into perspective, lending it more credence.

For argument’s sake, we should perhaps visit a few of the existing definitions.

“Teamwork is the process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal”Business Dictionary.

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives”  – Andrew Carnegie.

There is also no phrase that expresses the need for collaboration as adequately as the adage “No man is an island”. This adage translates to the fact that no single individual has a monopoly of knowledge, thereby necessitating the adoption of teamwork.

Efficiency is bolstered where there is knowledge sharing through brainstorming sessions, which introduces fresh ideas as opposed to dated ideas resulting from working alone. Again, there is also a pool of creatively unique as well as diverse viewpoints to be engaged with.

Benefits of teamwork in the workplace

Working together allows team members build on the skillset of their teammates, while one person’s strength may be in IT, another may be in critical thinking, content creation, project management or even public relations, when each team member’s talent is exploited, there is a resultant blend of complementary strengths from which individual members of the team can benefit.

Teamwork promotes a wider sense of ownership mentality where each employee begins to see themselves as co-owners of the business. This, in turn, reflects on the growth and ultimately the profit margin of the business as new business strategies are introduced, refined and executed.

Understanding Generation Z- the new entrants to the workplace.

Generation Z refers to young people who were born between roughly 1996 and 2010.- those who typically were born into a technologically advanced world that is simply unable to do without the internet.

As recruiters and perhaps potential employers of labour, it is important to understand the characteristics that define these new set of job seekers so as to be able to manage their expectations and help them to succeed in life.

Characteristics of Gen Z

  1. They are technologically advanced from an early age and learn to use smart phones very early in life.
  2. They develop a strong ability to communicate electronically via mobile apps and online platforms even before they start school.
  3. They have an incredible ability to search out information on the internet and absorb copious amounts of information.
  4. They are strong multi-taskers, able to handle diverse tasks and projects at the same time
  5. Their attention span is very low unfortunately and they are ready to move on to the next activity within short time periods
  6. They tend to be more independent and autonomous than millennials (the Generation before them) and many of them are eager to start their own businesses much earlier in life.

Motivating Gen Z

A good understanding of the above traits will go a long way in placing Gen Zers in the workplace. Monotonous or routine jobs would be a turn off for these high paced set of employees. Tasks that enhance their innate creative abilities and promote an entrepreneurial spirit would be very desirable and would stimulate increased productivity and performance.  

Long gone are the days of long service in companies. The new generation, not unlike the Millennials are not looking forward to long service company awards. They are highly mobile and enjoy the here and now. Jobs that enable them to be involved in projects and where possible allow them to travel and work remotely would be best suited for this cohort.

 Fluid workplace arrangements with less rigid structures, policies and practices may very soon become the order of the day in even the most conservative of corporate organisations.