What can I do while unemployed?

Be active, make the most of your spare time and look for a new job
Written by
Staying connected at home.

Unemployment doesn’t just affect your finances; it can also hit your self-esteem and be stressful at times. If you’ve lost your job or if you are unable to find a job it’s not always easy to stay relaxed and worry-free.

Tips on dealing with unemployment

Ask for help

If you are unemployed it’s important to look for support and advice on finding a new job. Talk to your local careers office or youth information centre to find out about jobs, voluntary work options and adult education options.

Visit your local social welfare office and sign on for jobseeker’s allowance or benefit. In Northern Ireland, go to your local Job Centre and ask to claim jobseekers allowance. You’ll need to bring your passport or birth cert, another form of I.D. such as your driver’s licence or Public Service Card, as well as a household bill and your P45 form from your last job or a letter from your last boss saying you no longer work there. Click here for further information on getting social welfare.

Make a budget

Make a budget so that you can see how much money you’re going to be living on. Living on a small amount of money can change your lifestyle: look for cheap or free forms of exercise and entertainment like going for a run, joining the public swimming pool, inviting friends over to dinner and drinking only a little on nights out. If you are worried about paying rent or your mortgage, find useful information here.

Contact the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) or the National Debtline (0808 8084000) for advice and information if you are worried about debt. There are MABS offices in every county and they offer a free, confidential service. If you are in Northern Ireland, then visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) for financial advice.

Look for a new job

While you are applying for jobs, think about doing voluntary work or returning to education to improve your CV. SOLAS provides a range of services to help people find work and learn new skills. The SOLAS website has information on a huge number of options for anyone looking for work or qualifications, from crafts to computers to farming to finance.

If you’re between 15 and 18 and have left school early you can train with YouthReach. The training is full-time (you get an allowance) and covers work experience, skills and general education.

Ways of staying active when unemployed

Being unemployed can be stressful so it’s important to take measures to protect your physical and mental health.


Try to exercise regularly, preferably daily. The gym can be great if you can afford it, as not only will you exercise, but also you will get out of the house and meet people. There are plenty of other free or cheap exercises though, such as walking, running or swimming. You could also arrange to exercise with a friend.

Make a routine

Try to stick to a somewhat normal routine. You don’t need to go to bed at nine, but if you are going to bed when the rest of the world is getting up, you will probably feel more isolated than ever. Plus, it will be hard to call agencies if you don’t wake up till four in the afternoon. 

Make a plan for yourself every week so that you do some job research, phone calls or applications every day. Set yourself a goal like to apply for three jobs a week.

Eat well

Food is fuel. Tasty fuels that will help keep you in a positive frame of mine. Junk food gives you a brief high, but will then lead to a low. This is the last thing you need when you are going through the stress of trying to find a job. Instead, keep yourself fueled with clean protein, healthy fats and good carbs such as vegetables, fruit and starches.

Stay positive 

Most importantly, don’t blame yourself for being unemployed: there are lots of other people in the same situation. Check with your job centre or community centre if there are local groups or projects to help people who are out of work.

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

Related articles
Skip to content