8 Reasons to Work While Collecting Unemployment Benefits


There?s a popular line of reasoning that once you?ve lost your job and you?re collecting unemployment benefits that you?re new ?fulltime job? is finding a new fulltime job. You have the motivation (being jobless) and at least some income to cover you until you find something else, so this makes sense.

But what if you were to approach the situation a bit differently, say by recognizing your time of unemployment as a valuable opportunity to experiment? You can do that through various forms of employment?temporary jobs, contract work, and part time?and even though you?ll lose some or all of your benefits for a time, it may be worth doing.

Here are some reasons why taking at least a part time job may be better than staying home and spending all of your time looking for a new full time job.

1. It gives you something to keep you busy.

Idle time is one of your worst enemies when you?re unemployed. Too much down time means time for worry and negative thinking, and that?s something you need to avoid. Circulating is crucial, and while you can do this by going on job interviews, networking, volunteering and working out, adding even a part time job to the mix can give that all important sense of forward motion.

2. It can break up job hunting monotony.

Job hunting takes a lot of time, energy, discipline and emotional fortitude, if only because most of us don?t do it most of the time. And while it may be possible to sustain a high level of effort in that direction short periods, doing it for months can burn you out. You may need to spend most of your time in the job hunt, but you?ll need to do other things as well, preferably those that
also have the potential to get you a job. Working is one of the best ways to do this.

3. It provides working contacts.

If you?re unemployed, developing a network of contacts is crucial, but the tendency in this direction is often to network with other unemployed people. It may help to informally network through some sort of job, which may give you access to decision makers either in the business you?re working for or outsiders (customers, vendors, affiliates, etc.) you deal with in the course of employment.

4. It?s an opportunity to develop new skills.

Is it possible that either you lost your job or are having difficulty finding a new one because you were missing a critical skill? There?s no better way to develop a skill than with hands on experience. Let?s say although you were in management, your career was stunted by a lack of sales experience; now that you?re unemployed, you may be able to get a job in sales that will give you the needed experience and skills. What ever skill you were lacking, or need to develop, is there some sort of job you could take specifically to learn it?

5. It?s a chance to try something completely new.

Now let?s get down to a grim reality of our times: many of the jobs lost in the past few years aren?t coming back. One of the best things you can do for your career, long term, may be to try something completely new. Sure, you could hang back, collect unemployment for as long as you?re allowed while searching for the perfect career, but sometimes that career has to be built from the ground up. What is it you?d really like to do? Now might be the time to take a chance.

6. It provides a sense of self-worth.

For many of us, the best source of self-worth is found in earning a paycheck. Although you may earn less money than you?ll make in unemployment benefits, there?s much to be said for earning at least a little bit of income through our work. Stay home too long drawing unemployment benefits, and you?re self-esteem may begin to weaken?that isn?t a situation anyone needs when unemployed.

7. The jobs you hold while unemployed can be the start of a multiple income stream program.

The employment landscape is changing. Depending on what kind of job you held (and in what industry), there may no longer be full time equivalent replacement jobs available. You may find that the solution to your problem will be solved not by a new job, but by multiple income streams. The contract, temporary or part time job you take now may enable you to develop one of those streams.

8. It can provide a revenue stream once the benefit checks stop coming.

Many of the unemployed today have watched months turn into years, and in the process benefit checks have stopped coming in. If you?re unable to secure a job by the time your claim (and your other resources) run out, you?ll have to be prepared to do something when it does. Better to have the wheels turning on this well before it happens.

As compelling as it may seem to use an unemployment check to aid in the full time search for a new job to replace the one you lost, working at something?or even several something?s?may provide better long term results.

Are you unemployed, or have you been in the recent past? Did you spend all of your time looking for a new job, or did you try different work situations to see where that might lead? How did it work for you?

( Photo by aflcio )

4 Responses to 8 Reasons to Work While Collecting Unemployment Benefits

  1. I swear, I had this exact same thought (for a while actually).

    Why not!!!

    The one concern that I would have would be how it would affect your unemployment benefits…

  2. MR – It would negatively affect benefits, but my own thought is that it will be worth the lost benefits if there will be constructive long term gains. This will probably be true in most cases. If you ride out your benefit claim, doing nothing other than looking for a job, then the benefits run out and you still have no job, you’ll be in the worst situation possible. At least by working here and there you can build some experience, contacts and hopefully, a cash flow source or two.

  3. I would like to suggest that you be very CAREFUL with working while drawing “unemployment” as there are ALOT of red tape involved when doing this. And by this I mean, if you are not careful, you can lose your unemployment benefits and end up having to pay back what you have received.

  4. Angela – Good point. By working and earning money, you have to report your earnings to the unemployment office. If you do, they will reduce your benefit by the amount that you earned, with some modifications. It’s also possible that you could lose your benefit completely if you make above a certain amount.

    If you don’t report your earnings, unemployment will find out about it after the fact then come after you for the money. That won’t be a pretty situation, so make sure you faithfully report what you earn!

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