What can I do while unemployed?

There are supports available that can help you to build your confidence, look after your mental health and find a job

Written by spunout


Unemployment doesn’t just affect your finances. It can also affect your self-esteem and be stressful at times. If you’ve lost your job or if you are unable to find a job, it is important to know that you are not alone. 

How to deal with unemployment

Being unemployed can be very challenging. If you are currently experiencing unemployment, there are supports available that can help you to build your confidence, look after your mental health and find a job.

Build a realistic and balanced routine

When you are not working, you do not have the routine that a job provides. However, it is still possible to build your own routine and this can be really beneficial for your wellbeing. 

Try to treat job-seeking like a job that has a start and an end time. You can do this by setting aside specific chunks of time each week for activities related to your employment. This could include activities such as searching for jobs, applying for jobs and upskilling. It can be helpful to set yourself a goal that is realistic and achievable for you, such as applying for three jobs a week.

Building a routine in this way will help you to stay motivated while looking for jobs. It will also allow you to fully relax and take part in activities that you enjoy without feeling like you should be doing something else. 

Finding a routine that works for you can take time, and a plan on paper can look very different in practice. If you plan a routine for yourself and find it hard to stick to it, that’s ok. You can always go back to your plan to make adjustments.

Ask for help with jobseeking

Looking and applying for jobs can sometimes be a time-consuming and disheartening process. However, it is not a journey that you have to go through on your own. If you are unemployed and finding it difficult to get a new job, there are free supports out there that can help you.  

Intreo provides a range of employment services and income supports to jobseekers. In your local Intreo Centre you can get jobseeking advice, information on job vacancies and employment schemes and income support (such as jobseeker’s payments) all in one place. Intreo can also support you to upskill or return to education, which may help you to expand your employment opportunities. When you first sign on to a jobseeker’s payment, you will be assigned to a group engagement session  with other jobseekers to give you an overview of the supports available. Find your local Intreo Centre.

If you do not have a local Intreo Centre, you can make a claim for a jobseeker’s payment at your local Social Welfare Branch Office and you can register for employment services at your Local Employment Service (LES) office. 

SOLAS provides a range of services to help people find work and learn new skills. If you are in third-level education, your college might also offer free career services that can support you while job-seeking.

Find opportunities to upskill

If you are unemployed and have the time to do so, you could consider learning some new skills. There are many free and flexible opportunities to learn new skills and reskilling or upskilling in this way could help you to find the job you are looking for. Read more about upskilling opportunities

If you are unemployed and over 21, then you could be eligible for a Back To Education Allowance. This could give you the opportunity to take part in a second or third-level education course. Find out more about Second Level Back To Education Allowance, Third Level Back to Education Allowance and Postgraduate Back to Education Allowance

The internet also offers many opportunities to learn new things. Find out more about gaining new skills online

Make a budget

If you recently lost your job, the amount of income that you are receiving may have changed. Making a budget can help you to prioritise what is essential and avoid financial stress. Learn more about how to create a budget.

It is possible that you are eligible to receive social welfare payments to support you while you look for work. Find out whether you are eligible to receive social welfare payments.

If you are feeling worried about money, know that you are not alone. There is advice and support available for looking after your money, and your mind. The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) can offer you free and non-judgemental advice if you are worried about money. For more advice on dealing with money worries, read our article on how to deal with financial stress.

Meet your physical needs

If you are unemployed, looking for a new job might be one of your main priorities. However, it is also important to prioritise your physical and mental health. A healthy routine looks different for everyone but it will usually include some regular movement, nutritious food and good quality sleep. It is important to find ways to fit these things into your life in a way that works for you.

Some daily movement can help you to reduce stress and boost your mood. How you choose to move does not have to be costly, long or strenuous. Something as simple as a short walk or an online yoga video are great ways to incorporate movement into your day. Whatever form of movement you choose, it is important that it is enjoyable for you.

Supporting yourself with nutrient-rich food can help you to maintain your energy and focus while looking for a job. Meal planning can help you to get the nutrition that you need while also saving time and money. It can be helpful to find a handful of simple, tasty and nutritious recipes that you can cook in large quantities and freeze. 

The quality and quantity of your sleeping hours has a big impact on your physical and mental health. If you are finding it hard to sleep at the moment, our tips for improving your sleep might be able to help you.

Talk about it

If you lose your job or have been unemployed for a while, it may have an effect on your self-esteem and self-worth. Try not to blame yourself for being unemployed. There are lots of other people in the same situation. 

If you are feeling stressed about your situation, tools such as mindfulness and meditation can be very beneficial. It is also really important to talk to someone when you are feeling down. You could talk to a friend, family member, teacher, therapist or other trusted person in your life. Find out more about affordable treatment for mental health.

If you are feeling overwhelmed about your situation and want to talk to someone right now, 50808 is here to help:

Feeling overwhelmed and want to talk to someone?

If you are a customer of the 48 or An Post network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 086 1800 280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.

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