I don't know if you're aware of this, but the job market sucks. I don't care who says what about how many jobs are being created. It sucks. After college I was one of the lucky ones that slid immediately into a post-grad internship, but I'm on my second temporary job since that internship ended because I haven't gotten anything permanent. And sprinkled in there were two stints equaling almost three months of unemployment.
Really, I shouldn't be complaining about three months. In the grand scheme of things, that's barely a blip on the radar, and I know there are a ton of people that have it worse than I do. I do, however, think I somehow managed to handle it pretty well. And hopefully the wisdom I gained can help other people be less miserable!
1. Don't apply for a million jobs. It sounds counterintuitive, but for real. DON'T DO IT. I'm always boggled when I hear people say things like, "oh I must've applied for a hundred jobs per week!" Like, are you joking? How long did you spend on each application, 10 seconds? How many of those jobs would you actually want? Just because you're unemployed doesn't mean you should just take any job. Be more deliberate with your applications, and go for jobs you'd be genuinely excited to get. (This also greatly helps during interviews, since you won't have to BS your answers!) Work your connections, update your LinkedIn page, spruce up your resume... but don't spent eight hours a day sending out applications en masse. It's not worth it. Save your sanity.
2. Take advantage of your free time. The timing of my unemployments actually worked out great, as I ended up having a month off around the holidays last year and two months off during the summer -- so, literally, I stayed on my old college break schedule. This made it really easy for me to think of my time off as just that: time off. I spent a ton of time doing things I enjoy. I got back into working out, I read, I blogged, I went on the occasional adventure, and I got more sleep & was more well rested than I'd been in a year. When you're in an office all day, you can't make the three-hour round trip to meet one of your favorite athletes on a workday with 24-hours notice. The world is your oyster. There's no reason to sit around and mope.
3. Have a support system. It's super easy to just crawl into a hole and hibernate when you have nowhere to be every day, but you definitely need to make that extra effort to be social. Your friends will like you whether or not you have a job, and it's super important to get out of your own head once in awhile. Also critically important? Someone who will threaten homicide on your behalf when you send them an "I hate everything and life sucks" text. Find that person. Love them. Keep them forever.
4. Know that someone WILL hire you. You are qualified. You have skills. You are a valuable employee. Someone, somewhere, at some point, will realize that. The jobs you don't get simply weren't meant to be, and you will end up in the right place. Every rejection gets you closer to that one job offer -- you only need one! -- so when they inevitably happen, give yourself some time to sulk but let it roll off your back. It's their loss! (Seriously, adopting this attitude helped me SO MUCH.)
Since my job is a temporary position, I'll probably be needing a refresher on this list somewhere between February and May. Ah, the glamorous life of a twenty-something in the 21st century. Hang in there, friends!