The following post is contributed by Richard Hemby who frequently writes about online degrees and college related topics for Online College Guru, a directory of accredited online degrees

Especially in today's economic environment, many people have found themselves among the ranks of the unemployed through no fault of their own. Some people are fortunate enough to find other work immediately; others are not so lucky and seek work in vain for months or even years. Unemployment benefits bridge the gap for many out-of-work individuals but, over time, this can become a trap for some who become accustomed to drawing unemployment and lose touch with the working world.

Unemployment benefits are meant to be a temporary measure; workers who forget this can find themselves in serious difficulty when those benefits run out. Milking your unemployment benefits for all they are worth is not only bad for the economy; it's harmful to your future employment prospects as well. Here are some hints on how to maximize your employment chances while minimizing your time on unemployment.

Learn new tricks

Instead of staying at home and becoming addicted to soap operas, many unemployed workers choose to brush up on basic skills or learn a new trade. Incentives and financial assistance can provide an entry point for furthering one's education. Whether you opt for a degree program, advanced certification, or a few credit hours in a new field, these educational excursions can show prospective employers that you're open to learning new things and willing to take risks; this can make the difference between a job offer and another polite rejection letter.

Stay in the game

Even when you feel discouraged by constant rejection, it's essential that you continue sending out resumes and working toward the career you want. Perseverance and determination are the keys to finding the right job opportunity for you. If you want to work for a particular company, send them a resume even if they are not hiring; in most cases, your resume will be retained by the human resources staff and you'll be the first name they see when an opportunity becomes available.

Shape up

Unemployment is not an excuse to let yourself go. Devote some time every day to fitness and health. This will improve your energy level, your self-esteem, and ensure that you stay healthy and in good shape for job interviews and other activities.

Be willing to compromise

Look into jobs that may be slightly outside your field of expertise; these can open up far more opportunities than a strict adherence to the type of work you've done before. If you've been employed in public relations, look into fundraising or human resources; the skills and experience necessary are largely the same. Don't unnecessarily limit yourself to one specific job description. Similarly, be willing to accept a temporary or part-time job in order to get back into the marketplace. Employers tend to look with suspicion on large gaps in your job history; two part-time jobs may provide approximately the same level of income as one full-time job. By being flexible about your employment expectations, you can often find the right job far more quickly.

Most importantly, don't give up. Don't relax and collect your unemployment benefits, regarding this period as a vacation. It's not. Instead, consider it as an opportunity to hone your job skills and enhance your employability. By maximizing your qualifications, persisting in your job search, and thinking outside the box, you can improve your chances of landing a job that's precisely right for you.

For more advice from Richard Hemby check out his site.