Many people will be unemployed at some point, but you don’t need to let it sideline your career permanently. There are a few actions that you can take while unemployed that will help you become a better job candidate. Try doing these five things to make yourself a better candidate for your next job.
Volunteering is a great way to strengthen your resume, as long as the work is relevant to your career. You may even be able to pick up new skills while volunteering. With paying work, it’s hard to get a position that you’re not completely qualified for, but many non-profits are willing to take a chance on a volunteer. They aren’t taking a huge risk if you end up not being the right person for the job, but it gives you the opportunity to learn new skills.
The easiest way to find a volunteer job is to look online. Search VolunteerMatch or Idealist for opportunities in your area.
2. Try temping
In addition to volunteering, consider taking on some temporary jobs to fill the gap on your resume. These jobs are short-term and don’t offer much job security, but any income is better than none. Temping can also be a great way to learn new skills, for the same reason as volunteering. Companies are willing to take a chance on a temp because there’s a very low commitment for them. Sign up with a local temp agency and get ready to receive assignments that will help you grow your skills.
3. Take classes
You don’t need to start a whole new degree program, but taking a few classes can help fill the gap on your resume and give you some much needed skills. Many colleges and universities offer continuing education programs so that you can take classes without the commitment of taking on a full degree program. Make sure that the classes are relevant to your career.
If you can’t afford to go back to school, consider signing up for free, online courses. These are available through Coursera and edX. While you won’t be able to get any college credit for these courses, you’ll be able to learn new skills that can help you in your job search.
4. Start freelancing
Freelancing isn’t an option for everyone, but if your skill set allows for it, it’s a great way to both fill employment gaps and make some much needed money. Brainstorm your skills and then look for people who will pay for them. Writing and editing, web design, and tax preparation may all be suitable for you, depending on your skills and your field.
Consider signing up for Elance, a website that connects freelancers with their future clients. You should also set up a website (or a blog) to advertise your services, showcase your skills, and attract clients. Platforms such as Wordpress are excellent for this.
5. Expand your network
Unemployment can be isolating, especially if you don’t make the effort to get out of the house. Look for conferences or conventions in your field, since those are great places to meet people that can help advance your career. Make sure to mention that you’re currently looking for a job, since you never know who is hiring. Up to eighty percent of job openings are never publicly posted, and are filled through networking. You never know, you might hit it off with someone who is currently hiring.
Being unemployed doesn’t have to mean being trapped inside your house as your skills go stagnant. Try doing some (or all!) of these five things, and make yourself a better job candidate.