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Searching for a new job is tough for anyone. And for newcomers, the job search can be that much more challenging. The journey can be an emotional roller-coaster and the ‘free time’ on your hands can seem endless. 

Linda Ryan is the National Program Manager with BCCA-Integrating Newcomers, a government funded, Canada-wide, pre-arrival career coaching service for high skilled construction professionals immigrating to Canada (*BCCA-IN). A career and certified performance coach, she and the BCCA-IN team specialise in helping newcomers plan for, and achieve, employment success, no matter what city or province they are moving to.

When it comes to job searching Ryan provides smart advice about how to survive the ‘free time’ trap when jobless. As Ryan states “free time isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when you’re between jobs or a newly landed immigrant.”  Prepare for Canada (PFC) spoke to Ryan and here’s what she had to offer.  

3 Tips to Deal with Free-Time

A job search can take time, especially when you’re waiting to hear back from potential employers. Recognizing that we all covet free time, it starts to feel like a cavernous canyon when you’re sitting at home twiddling your thumbs and watching your hard-earned money drain from your bank account. Ryan discusses three smart coping tips:

  1. Be Aware
  2. Take Responsibility
  3. Move to Action

Ryan: I remind clients of three things they can do to manage the ‘free time’ trap. And, one of the first things I tell my clients is to Be Aware. Specifically, be aware that you’re in uncharted territory. Be aware that it’s stress-inducing. And, be aware of making the “I’ll accept any job” or “survival job” decision to manage your short-term job stress. 

I encourage my clients to emulate Mel Gibson’s character William Wallace (13th-century warrior) in the movie Braveheart. He bellowed “HOLD” to his fellow warriors who were too eager to enter the battlefield willing to accept death over the unknown.

I remind clients that the temporary discomfort of the unknown will pass if they hold to their beliefs and their nerve!

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PFC: You identify the need to Take Responsibility. What does that look like in the context of job searching?

Ryan: This second thing I remind clients to do is to Take Responsibility. Specifically, take responsibility for how you’re feeling and do small things to counter difficult emotions. Whether it’s using a “What if?” mantra to shift your perspective, or even a “WTF” mantra to laugh at your current situation. 

For example, by using a “What if?” approach, you take control of self-defeating thoughts that can prevail with free time on your hands. Ask yourself, what if the worst that could happen takes place? Then answer: 

  • What am I worried about?
  • How can I best manage those worries?
  • What do I need to do if the worst does happen?

Allow yourself to acknowledge what you’re feeling. This empowers you to make a decision to move or stay stuck. Whatever the decision, you will make it consciously, so there’s no place to hide!

PFC: Your final tip is to Move to Action. What specific advice can you offer? 

Ryan: Move to Action is very important. If free time is your enemy, then create an ally by adding structure to your day. For example, create a fake Monday to Friday work week and devote an hour each day in the morning to: 

  • Manage logistics such as bills, errands, and settlement services
  • Conduct intense job hunting activities (get honest with a top 10 list for your ideal role; update your resume/cover letter; use Google Maps to check the commute time of a potential job)
  • Be proactive and network in your profession both online and more importantly offline (the hidden job market will remain an enigma until your build genuine relationships to tap into it).

Then assign the rest of your day to get out and to exercise and enjoy your surroundings.

Everything that makes you smile and relax “in the flow” is rocket fuel for your energy and your long-term decision-making muscles. 

free time

And finally, above all else, I remind clients to Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway! Life is too short to accept ‘average’, ‘ok’, or ‘fine’.

Learn More about BCCA-IN

*The BCCA-Integrating Newcomers program is a free, pre-arrival, Canada-wide service, focused on helping high-skilled newcomers explore and build successful construction careers. Services include one-on-one career guidance, tailored resume, cover letter, LinkedIn advice, and an in-depth skills and education assessment to help newcomers focus on the best career, credentials and connections activities. The Integrating Newcomers team not only has multi-industry experience but are also immigrants who have built successful careers in Canada.