As the economy fitfully ramps up again after the COVID-19 outbreak, many workers face a difficult question: head back to work or stay on unemployment? It underlines an issue that comes up any time a layoff happens. But, ultimately, you’re likely better off finding a job before the unemployment runs out. 

Now, the debate is particularly pointed. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Congress passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package. This included a significant boost to unemployment benefits, with the original plan providing some recipients with an extra $600 a week while they were out of a job. 

The increased benefits created a quandary for some people as businesses started to open up again. With the additional $600 a week, many out-of-work Americans actually receive more than they did while they were employed. According to one study, more than two-thirds of folks receiving benefits (68%) will get more from the government than they did while working. 

If you’re one of those workers, the numbers could suggest a wait-until-you-have-to strategy. After all, you’ll make more in the short run holding out until your unemployment run out. Theoretically, you can maximize your cash by receiving benefits as long as possible, since a return to work could actually mean a drop in your weekly check.  

However, that strategy could be short-sighted. There are other reasons to return to work before your unemployment runs out.

Here are some things to keep in mind: 

Restart Your Normal Life 

Unemployment is like a pause in your career. More than that, it represents a major change in your lifestyle. Your schedule and your daily routine suddenly become much different. 

It’s important to get back to a regular work schedule as soon as possible. If you wait too long, your new routine could become a hard-to-break habit. Working is like a muscle. Take too much time off, and your career flex could get flabby.  You might have trouble revving up for a return to work. Regular inconveniences, like getting up early or even putting in eight hours of activity in a row, can become difficult. 

Longer-Term Career-Building  

Careers have a certain momentum. To truly develop overtime, you need to get into a rhythm. Each day you head to work, you interact with coworkers and improve your skills. These micro improvements add up over time to define your long-term career development. 

Time away from work diminishes this momentum. In short bursts, this won’t hamper your prospects in any meaningful way. However, you don’t want these breaks to last longer than necessary. 

You Might Miss Your Shot 

You only have a short period of time you have to capture great opportunities. Perfect jobs don’t stay open very long. As such, it’s impossible to precisely time when you want to return to the workplace. You need to take advantage of opportunities as soon as they arise. 

 Unemployment benefits give you some slack. You don’t have to take any position.  Instead, you can pick roles that suit you best. But you still need to be ready to strike when the right situation comes around. 

Unemployment Won’t Last Forever  

Eventually, unemployment benefits will come to an end. Your time on unemployment will eventually run out, or the authorities could change the rules about who receives what benefits. You don’t want to be the last person trying to get back into the labor pool when that time comes. Don’t wait until you’re facing a ticking clock. Start looking for the right opportunities now. 

Not sure how to get started? A staffing firm can help. A strong recruiting partner, like SmartTalent, can slot you into the perfect role quickly, allowing you to restart your career to set you up for even better opportunities down the road. 

Contact SmartTalent today to learn more. 

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