Here is a guest post from Lindsey Donner, Lifestyle Editor for http://igrad.com, “the College Student to College Graduate Resource.” She also blogs regularly on writing as a career at http://lindseydonner.com.
Few things in life are more mind-numbing than an extended job hunt. Even if your downtime between jobs peaks at just a few weeks of unemployment, you’re liable to feel quickly diminished, dehumanized, and exhausted within the first week.
There is also the added insult of the career blogs’ intimation that your failure is due, at least in part, to your inability to leave the house and network, network, network. But who wants to network when you could be in your bed, face ablaze with the glare from your laptop, eating cereal with your hands? Exactly: the kind of people who are already employed.
But it’s possible to improve your odds of joining that exclusive club while also rebuilding your dangerously low levels of self-esteem, even when you’re in a slump and seemingly prospect-less. In fact, the worst thing you can do is remain completely disengaged; everything’s harder when you’re rusty and out of the loop.
If you’re reading this in bed right now, I suggest you get up, brush your teeth, and start tackling this list. At best, it’ll help you get a job. At worst, it’ll make you feel better about yourself. What’s to lose?
- Create a job portfolio. If you’re a designer, you have already done this. But writers, marketers, programmers, and others can benefit from an on- or offline collection of their biggest professional hits. Hints: marketers will want to include numbers and case studies; programmers, a code repository.
- Find a volunteer gig that matches your skills (or improves them). Volunteering: it makes you feel good. It makes other people feel good. It gets you out of the house. But for the unemployed, it can be a life raft: you might meet your next boss, or find your true calling, or decide to switch career paths, or learn a new skill (like software that the local arts council asks you, their office volunteer, to work with). You will almost certainly have a new resume bullet and renewed confidence.
- Clean your (virtual) house. You “never” use LinkedIn. (Really? It’s a great tool for targeted job searching.) Or maybe you “never” update your blog, or your Twitter account. And you definitely “never” thought of revamping your resume. Do me a favor: make a list of all of your online accounts, and then work down the list, with the most professional profiles at the top. Then, go through and improve each and every one. Update your resume on LinkedIn. Recommend a colleague.
- Go back to school, this time for free. Or almost free. There are several obvious, awesome, FREE or low-cost ways for the jobless to acquire new skills. Let me name a few: (1) internships; (2) industry blogs; (3) online skill-building webinars; (4) community colleges; (5) other local venues, like libraries and community centers, churches, etc. Pick up a local newspaper and get involved. If you can’t part with your laptop, find out what other people know that you don’t: how to use InDesign? How to write a press release? What? There’s a blog, course, or webinar with your name on it.
The bottom line, folks? Do something, and do it well, focusing not on your current situation but where you want to be in the next year—when the search finally ends and you climb out of bed.