Often Overlooked Job-Search Opportunities

While a job search can be stressful, it also presents opportunities job seekers tend to miss.

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A job search can be viewed many different ways, depending on your situation and experience. In this economy, it’s clearly difficult, frustrating, and slow.

But no matter how you look at it, you’re likely missing some key aspects. Especially if you feel stressed, are struggling to sleep at night, or simply losing patience for what feels like a broken process.

Looking for a job makes you part of a community. It may be one you never intended to join, but now you can use it your long-term advantage. Your fellow unemployed peers are potential friends, perhaps even future co-workers. They’re people you can lean on, both today and tomorrow. You’ve joined a job-search fraternity of sorts, a group of people with shared experiences. And only you know what it feels like to be a part of that crew.

[See 11 Helpful Sites for Job Seekers.]

So what opportunities might you be missing while looking for a job?

The chance to compete. If you played sports in high school, led the college debate team, or entered the science fair, you’ll have to admit that it’s fun to compete. Many of us enjoy putting ourselves out there against others in life. Win or lose, it’s a chance to measure your skills and experience against a slew of others. So as difficult as it might be, try to enjoy that aspect of your job search.

New long-term relationships. Probably the single biggest opportunity for job seekers is to establish a long-term network, one you can help, nurture, and lean on throughout the rest of your career. Admittedly, you have a LinkedIn profile and network most of your friends drool over, even if they don’t see the immediate value. And your local community gets more interesting as you bump into more pals than everyone else when out at the car wash, grocery store, or nightclub. But this is an opportunity to grow your network even more.

Rethink your career options. While it’s important to have clear job-search objectives for an effective social networking effort, you can still take time to think. Evaluate your career to date and figure out if you’re doing what leaves you happy or just doing what you’ve always done.

[See: How Loving Your Job Helps You Succeed.]

Be with family and friends. There’s a significant opportunity during job search to tackle some important tasks. But first on the list should be making up for lost time with family and friends. Since you can’t look for a job 16 hours a day, what else could you be doing? There are 101 (other) things you can do while looking for a job. Pick a few and get started today.

Pursue a passion. One of the (other) ideas you should consider during job search is to take action on a passion in life. Whether it’s fly fishing, starting your own company, writing a novel or a country song, take the time now—because this may be the only major break in your career. If it is, you’ll be glad you got started on the project. Reward your ideas with the chance to be born.

[For more career advice, visit U.S. News Careers, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.]

Help others. We all have charitable thoughts. Some of us act on them, while others ignore or delay them. But consider this: what if you took a productive day off during your job search to help others? What if you stopped focusing on yourself for just one day each month. How do you think it would feel?

What opportunities are you overlooking as you look for a job?

Tim Tyrell-Smith is founder of Tim's Strategy, a site that helps professionals succeed in job search, career and life strategy. Follow Tim on Twitter, @TimsStrategy, and share his 30 Ideas Book with job-seeking friends.

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