Making It through the Holidays When You’re Unemployed
The holidays are already stressful, but they can be especially difficult if you are looking for work. This time of year is often filled with decorating, giving gifts, traveling, and attending parties, which can put extra pressure on families that are financially burdened. It may feel overwhelming to look for work when everyone is so busy. Here are a few suggestions of how you can make it through the holidays.
Continue Your Job Search
Searching for jobs during the holidays may seem discouraging, but it’s actually a good time to be looking: many companies hire in January, which means their applications are often open in November and December. Keep building your network and reaching out to contacts to be aware of potential job opportunities.
The holidays are filled with social events, which are perfect for networking. As you attend ward, family, and community activities, talk to people about your previous work experience, and don’t be afraid to mention that you’re looking for a job. You might feel embarrassed to share that you’re out of work, but remember that friends and family members care about you and are generally willing to help. Describe the type of work you want to do, and stay positive about your efforts to find a job. Their support will not only help you through times of discouragement but could also lead you to potential job opportunities. You might also consider sending a Christmas card or email to your professional network or potential employers. This will keep you fresh on their minds.
Financial challenges and the trial of unemployment may present a few more challenges during the holidays, but take time to be grateful in spite of your circumstances. Remember the reason for the season—the gift of a Savior who brings peace and comfort in our times of need. Reflect on how the Lord has blessed you. Spend time with the people you love. Remember the Savior and serve others. These activities don’t require money and will help you keep a positive outlook, which can also help you to make a good impression on others.
Finding ways to serve in your ward or community can turn your holidays into a time of joy. Seek out volunteer opportunities. These opportunities will not only help you shift your focus to others but will also lead you to meet new people who may be able to help you as well.
President David O. McKay said, “True happiness comes only by making others happy—the practical application of the Savior’s doctrine of losing one’s life to gain it. In short, the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service” (Gospel Ideals , 551).
Include Your Family
Unemployment affects your family, perhaps most poignantly during the holidays. Find ways for your whole family to stay involved in holiday events while still keeping your job search in mind. Hold a family council to discuss how your job search affects everyone—including your holiday plans and budget. Above all, make sure you establish expectations with your children and extended family. Be upfront about what will be different this year and how they may need to adapt. Throughout your job search, emphasize family time. Help your family stick together and grow closer through this experience.
Adjust Your Budget
It might be tempting to celebrate the holidays just as you have in the past and hope that things will just work themselves out. But ignoring your finances now will only cause greater stress later; make a plan and stick to a budget. Decide what you can afford to spend on food, traveling, and presents without going into debt. Be creative with gifts. Consider researching on social media to find thoughtful, handmade items you could make or ways to live frugally during the holidays.
You may also consider seasonal work for some income. While your primary goal is to find full-time employment again, many companies hire extra hands during the holidays. Retail stores are busier and open later hours, businesses may need contract work for end-of-year reporting, sales jobs are trying to meet end-of-year quotas, and event planners need staff. Think outside the box, and see if there are any short-term needs you can fill to make a little extra money.
Like every holiday season, this one will likely have its ups and downs. Allow yourself to mourn the loss of your job and normal holiday plans but also allow yourself to feel joy as you spend time with friends and family. As you focus on the Savior, it will be easier for you to make wonderful memories this year and look forward with hope.