If you find yourself out of work for the first time in a long while, you may be surprised to discover that you can actually turn this period into a productive one. Since no one can tell you how long your job search will last, it is a good idea to take control over this stage of life and make it a useful one. One thing is for certain: The outlook is that we are going to experience an increase in unemployment in Israel in the months ahead. First, it helps to know that the new paradigm in career development includes periods of productive, gainful employment with interruptions or breaks every few years. This is due to a rise in factors such as employers' downsizing, organizational restructuring, company mergers or buyouts, and other, often unpredictable, changes in response to a range of high-impact market factors. So, if you are a typical job seeker, you find yourself looking for a new job while sitting at your computer for hours at a time. Meanwhile, you are no doubt wondering how long you will be out of work and how to cope with the uncertainty involved in a job search during a period of increasing unemployment, not to mention the obvious concerns about your dwindling bank account. Here are some tips to keep in mind during the period ahead: Visualize It helps to "depersonalize" the process you recently underwent. You cannot afford to allow yourself to feel like a victim or to internalize the feelings of rejection that naturally arise when retrenched. I recommend you consider changing the script: Instead of replaying in your mind the scenes that most represent the humiliation you may have endured when being let go, try to use guided visualization to focus on what you want to see happen in your next career move. Research demonstrates that those with a clear vision of the job they seek have greater success in their job search. Now is the time to determine your next career step and to envision yourself in that role - even though it may not happen "tomorrow morning." Use that vision as a guide and stimulus to action. Get proactive Utilize your social network and that of your friends and contacts to get your CV directed to decision makers in organizations where you see yourself having a contribution to make. Your CV must speak their language, so you may need several versions, each directed to the kind of position and organization you would like to contribute to. Do not hesitate to ask friends and relatives to help you by forwarding your CV to their superiors or to their other contacts who would benefit from you as an employee. See yourself as a resource center See yourself as a resource center with the ability to contribute skills and knowledge to your potential employer. Focus on these strengths when writing your CV and when speaking about your abilities and goals, especially in interviews. Think outside of the box Stretch your mind to reach out to new markets, consider positions that you might have ruled out in the past, identify market niches where hiring is still taking place (and indeed it is), look into starting your own business (contact your local MATI at www.asakim.org.il, which is an excellent resource to evaluate your business idea). Consider temporarily relocating, commuting or volunteering in an NGO while upgrading your skills, making a contribution, expanding your network and keeping occupied for now. Now is the time to learn This is a chance for you to upgrade your knowledge in a subject that is in high demand, such as language or computer skills. This may be an opportunity for you to take a course that will help you excel in your next position, or to learn the material on-line. Good Web sites for information are www.Nirshamim.co.il; www.oculture.com/2007/07/freeonlinecourses.html; and www.coursim.co.il. If you are in need of and eligible for retraining, speak to a counselor at the National Employment Service (www.taasuka.gov.il/Taasuka). Their job-search tips are offered under the heading of "yeutz taasukati." Get physical Since the refrigerator beckons to those who are home-based, I urge you to follow the UN's recommendations for staying healthy and in shape. You will look and feel better, and that counts for a lot in job interviews. Aim for 30 minutes at least four days a week. You can do this without spending money; even a fast-paced walk in your locality will do. This is your chance to implement those "healthy behaviors" you never had time for before. Act as if you are still employed Maintain your habits of waking up early, self-care and grooming, keeping in touch with colleagues and former coworkers. You can't afford to let yourself sleep in, lounge around all day, stay up all night or take a sustained time-out from life. Neighbors who see you looking unkempt or acquaintances who find that you appear poorly maintained will be reluctant to help you find employment and may be less willing to offer you support. If you have children, they need the reassurance that you are still there for them during this time of personal instability. Get back to nature Mother Nature has a healing effect. Israel abounds with free beaches, parks, forests, trails and vistas. For more info: www.kkl.org.il/kkl/hebrew/nosim-ikaryim/letayelkkl. Get out Find a reason to get out of your home each day: send letters via the post office; sit in a coffee shop to read the Friday newspaper want ads; make a coffee date with a friend each week; run errands just to get out of the house. For instance, on Fridays all the newspaper want ads can be found in Cafe Aroma. Find a supportive friend Find a supportive friend who can be a listening board, mentor, advisor or coach to you as you go through the ups and downs of a job search, including possible rejection and disappointments. Most spouses are too invested to be objective and a source of support. Try to find a friend who has been through a career change and who knows how to be empathetic and a patient listener. Alternately, join an on-line chat group or support group for job seekers. If preferred, you can hire a coach or turn to a career or other counselor for their services. Reduce your expenses This is an opportunity to reexamine your finances, including reducing your outlay for nonessentials, including newspaper subscriptions, numerous phone lines, recreational and costly food items, unnecessary purchases, etc. If you still need to make one-time purchases during this period, you may want to join a bartering club such as Bank Hazman (www.bankhazman.org.il), obtain free items via useful Web sites such as (www.freecycle.org/group/IL/Israel) or buy them second-hand at bargain prices on-line. I have bought everything from cars to furniture to children's clothes second-hand and have saved thousands in the process. Make a difference Offer to volunteer while you are conducting your job search. Benefits you can obtain include: staying active, feeling that you have much to offer others, discovering dormant abilities, filling your time in a meaningful way and developing new relationships that can help you in your job search. Ami volunteered on Fridays in a shelter in Ashdod for teenagers until his position ended after 26 years of service. The shelter immediately offered him a position that was vacated rather than offer it to someone unknown to the organization. See options at www.shatil.org.il/modaot or www.ivolunteer.org.il. Stay balanced Do something for your spirit - activities that challenge your brain as well as your body. These could include yoga, meditation, prayer, listening to uplifting or spiritual music, Chi Gun, free on-line courses or lectures on positive thinking and the science of happiness, Suduko, puzzles, brain games or any other activity that gets your mind or soul fired up and can get you "flowing." These help keep the blues away and can help you thinking in a positive way, which has proven itself to be instrumental in helping job seekers maintain an optimistic approach. This is a necessary step in the self-marketing process, especially after a layoff. Take the time to invest in yourself. You will ultimately find it to be the best investment you can make! www.maavarim.biz Judy Feierstein, CEO of Transitions and Resources, is a career counselor with expertise in selecting a new career.