Friday, January 1, 2016

Finding The Blessings In Unemployment (Or Wherever You Are In Life)

When I saw the above saying on a friend's Facebook page a few weeks ago, I knew I had to file it away and use it in a post here. Basically it means that you need to make peace with where you are in life and what is in order to move forward and allow new blessings in. And for me, that has meant making peace with being unemployed. 

It's been close to two years since my last job was eliminated, but it's only been during the past couple of months that I've really started to appreciate the benefits of the situation. And I don't just mean being able to wake up whenever I want and linger all morning in my bathrobe (those are two habits that I've been working on breaking, anyway.)

Sure, at the moment I don't have a steady check being direct deposited for me every other week, and I've had to pay for my own health and dental insurance. I'm also not socializing with a group of people during the day, and I really look forward to working with a team and having social stimulation again. But, I've been able to use my extra time to learn a few new skills that I didn't have much experience with in my last full-time job, and I know they can only benefit me in the job market. 

One of these was learning more about search engine optimization (SEO.) I took an online course last year which was so-so, but then registered for a few free webinars to learn more. After the most recent one a few months ago, I shared what I had learned with the CEO of the company I freelance for and asked if I could overhaul the SEO for the website. He happily obliged and together we worked on revising the product copy and adding keywords that people are searching for online, and also updated the meta tags and image file names. For...every...single...product (they have over 100!) I'll find out this weekend how much our efforts paid off when I go through Google Analytics and compare the search words that led people to our site in 2014 to the ones that led them there last year, and the differences in web traffic. 

Needless to say, Google Analytics was the second thing I taught myself more of in 2015. Previously I had only looked at the basic stats on it for the website, but eventually learned how to connect the SEO feature to it and learn everything that it could track for us. Recently I learned that Google has an online Analytics Academy where you can go through each section of the reporting and learn about each one, in depth, for free. It's one of my New Year's resolutions to begin going through it next week and tackling it. 

Being out of work has also allowed me to do a lot more of what I love to do most, writing. I've been able to enjoy that fun $15-per-article gig I picked up during the summer and have ended up learning about a lot of great non-profits and small businesses across the country that I never heard of before. I've also had more time to work on Go Retro and of course, launch this blog. 

And had I started a new job last year, I'm not sure how much time off I would have been allowed when my mother was in the hospital and then during her recovery. Even my oldest sister said she felt like it worked out for the best and now I can focus on the job search again. 

I really feel like I've learned a lot in the past few months and have a lot more confidence for the job market ahead. Do I want to be working full-time or close to it again? Absolutely. But in the meantime, being un/underemployed has definitely been a bit of a blessing. Here's hoping that the non-struggle and appreciating where I am is going to open that next door to where I'm going. 

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