Things You Should Do While Unemployed, Part 1

Depending on where you’re coming from and how burnt out you are from school or a previous job, being unemployed can be nice… for a little while. I was okay with it for a few weeks because it gave me the chance to explore a new area. But after that brief window of time during which you refer to unemployment as funemployment, everything goes downhill. Every day you get to answer your new favorite question: How’s the job search going? People will also ask what you’ve been up to, and when you think about it all you’ll be able to remember is applying for jobs and then getting sucked into the Internet’s time warp.

Well, friends, I know of things you can do other than peruse Reddit and Pinterest. Part 1 of this list includes things that will help you get a job; the fun stuff will come in part 2.

The first part of this list contains some things I did and some things I should have done. Well, mostly things I should have done. Here are a few things you can do while unemployed to help you become… not unemployed:

Volunteer

I volunteered in the PR department at the local humane society. I explored a field I hadn’t known much about, met some people who had my back on job openings and gained some valuable references.

In my opinion, volunteering is one of the best things you can do when you’re unemployed. Sure you’re benefiting others, but more importantly, you’re benefiting yourself in multiple ways.

Volunteering allows you to make new connections (it’s all about networking, people!) and find more people who can tell potential employers how awesome you are. These things are especially important when you’re living in a city where you don’t know anyone.

Volunteering can also help you explore different career opportunities. There might be something in (or out of) your field that you didn’t know existed or didn’t realize you’d enjoy until you started volunteering. Or you might start doing volunteer work that’s similar to what you want to get paid to do and realize you hate it.

Let’s not forget that volunteering is a resume-builder. Whether you pick up skills specific to your dream-job or add to more general experiences, such as team work or leadership, including the time you spent volunteering will help boost your resume. If nothing else, at least you’ll be able to tell potential employers that you did something meaningful during your career gap. You’ll be seen as someone who takes initiative and is eager to work. Which ultimately translates to being worthy of a job offering. Go you!

Learn a new skill

I had good intentions of learning HTML but never got around to it. Now my book is probably outdated.

Is there something you didn’t learn much about in school that you think would come in handy for a job? Then teach yourself! With books and the Internet, you can teach yourself pretty much anything. Even if you don’t think you need to learn anything new to be a good asset to a company, use some of your free time to stay up-to-date on things in your field that are constantly evolving, such as social media. That way if you’re asked questions about the industry during an interview, you’ll be able to wow everyone by knowing the latest info. Hooray!

Go to networking functions

Handshake by buddawiggi, on Flickr

Blerg. Networking isn’t for everyone. I always feel, and therefore act, incredibly awkward during networking-type situations. But I guarantee you that knowing people will help you get a job, so suck it up. Honestly, I didn’t even know that events specifically for networking existed until I stumbled over something online late into my job search. But if you’re good, you can make everything into a networking opportunity. When you go to volunteering events (I’m assuming you decided to volunteer), squeeze the fact that you’re looking for a job into a conversation. Being social downtown? Do the same thing. As long as you’re at it, why not strike up a conversation with the cashier at the grocery store. You’d be surprised at who has connections or knows of job openings that you might not have seen online.

Go to a temp agency

Job Hunting by Robert S. Donovan, on Flickr

Maybe I spent most of my life in a bubble, but I didn’t even know what a temp agency was until I already had a job. I did not realize that I could have had another person find a job for me. I understand that temp agencies aren’t always the best choice–feel free run a Google search before deciding whether or not you want to use a temp agency–but using one would have come in handy during my 6 months with absolutely no job.

Improve your online presence

linkedin

These days companies are all about using the Internet to find employees. Most resumes are required to be filled out online, robbing you of the chance to actually hand one in yourself and show off your firm handshake. In addition, potential employers will probably try to look you up online and might be just as alarmed at finding nothing as they would if they had found a video of you streaking. So take the time to create a profile on LinkedIn. Upload resumes onto sites such as Careerbuilder and Indeed. Start a blog that allows you to show off your knowledge in a specific field. You’ll most likely spend the majority of your days online anyway, so why not be productive?

Obviously job-hunting for a year doesn’t make me an expert on job-hunting. It actually seems like the opposite would be true, seeing as it took me a year to hunt-down a job. So if anyone else knows of other things the unemployed should do to become employed, please share!

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