I lost my job about an hour after I got married.
I’m exaggerating, but that’s what my in-laws probably thought. After our wedding, I moved their Georgian daughter to Boston for my job—and then promptly lost it. Those were not fun months.
A lot of people are in a similar place right now. Whether you lost your job or graduated from college into an economy that doesn’t feel very friendly, here are three things you need to do right now:
1. Think about your circles
Being unemployed is about properly managing three different circles: geography, industry and commitment. The longer you’re unemployed, the more deliberate you have to be about expanding these circles.
For example, for the first month or so, you might look for a new job in your city. During the second and third months, you might expand your search to other cities within your state.
If you experience prolonged unemployment, you might need to expand your search to other states—or even other time zones. Same goes with the industry you’re targeting and the commitment you want (full-time, part-time or hourly).
Want to potentially speed up your job search? Expand the circles quickly.
2. Get a stopgap job
This is way easier to write than it is to actually do, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.
You might need to get a stopgap job, some sort of part-time employment that heads off monsters like “getting the power turned off,” “having your car repo’d” or “moving back in with your parents.” This is an ego-aside, I-never-thought-I’d-work-here-but-difficult-times-call-for-difficult-measures kind of job.
The day I wrote this article, I saw a bakery job posting for someone to bake bread from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. That’s not easy. That’s not fun. But that’s a great stopgap job.
And don’t for a second buy the lie “If I take on a part-time job, I won’t be able to go out for interviews or look for a full-time job.” That’s ridiculous. What job interview are you forced to cancel at 4:00 a.m. because you’re making bread?
3. Put results at the top
This one is incredibly tactical, but it works. At the top of resumes, most people put “goals” or “objectives.” They then type out paragraphs that say things like, “I want to work in a people-based environment where I can use my skills to progress the business in innovative ways.”
Goals at the top of resumes are useless. Why? Everyone can say the exact same things. Everyone on the planet can write fluffy words about what they’re going to do. That doesn’t separate you from the crowd.
When I applied to one of the best ad agencies in the country, the owner chewed me out for using empty words like “goals.” He said that every candidate told him over and over again how creative or goal-oriented they were. He didn’t care about that. He cared about what I’d actually accomplished.
I rewrote my resume that week. Instead of goals or objectives, I started each resume with a short paragraph titled “results.” In under 100 words, I summarized what I felt like I had accomplished that might be relevant to each job.
And something weird happened. Recruiters and HR departments started asking me about the results. In some cases, they would barely look at the rest of my resume and would instead ask, “What was it like to work at Home Depot?” No one had ever asked me about any of the meaningless sentences I had put in my “goals” paragraph.
Even if you’re a recent college grad just joining a new industry, you’ve got a sentence or two you could put in that paragraph that might generate questions, interest and maybe even a job interview.
The good news is that regardless of why you find yourself without a job, there are some very tactical things you can do to remedy that. The great news is that we’re all in our 20s. We all have the chance to START over and be awesome again.
Just because you’re unemployed doesn’t mean you have to be average.
Jon Acuff is the New York Times bestselling author of four books, including his new one, Start. You can follow him on Twitter @JonAcuff and read his blog at jonacuff.com. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, we offer edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!