Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Will Being Unemployed Hurt My Job Hunt?

When it comes to searching for a new career opportunity, it may help you to keep in mind that every job hunter faces some tough hurdles. It should be noted that everyone has something to overcome, whether it's that they made too much money in their last job, never graduated from college, or fill in the blank. Regardless of the reason for your unscheduled ‘sojourn’ from steady employment, it is important that you do not to get hung up on it. Focus on what you have to offer and not upon what is ‘wrong’ with your résumé.

What follows are just a few suggestions to help you veil the gap in your employment history.

1. Start your own company. You have acquired skills throughout your career history, so why not look into selling those skills as an independent contractor. Look into finding short-term projects that will help you keep your skills sharp, while also introducing you to new people. The economy has forced companies to cut expenses wherever possible and this downsizing can be your ticket to a paycheque. Taking on a consulting or project role, even part-time, keeps you working and allows you to keep the career history flowing.

2. Get active in volunteer work. Everyone knows this is a good idea, but very few people actually do it. Helping out a non-profit organization can yield unexpected dividends. Not only will your work feed your soul, volunteer work can put you in a good position for making good contacts and perhaps lead you to your next ‘real’ job.

3. Update your skills. The time you spend being between jobs or underemployed is the perfect time for you to invest in yourself. Not only will you add to your skill set, studying will also put you in the position of meeting new people, a new support group and help you take your mind off of the everyday stress of feeling unwanted. If you cannot afford to enrol in a ‘formal’ school, then choose to study subjects wherein no ‘school’ exists. Become an expert in the use of social media, search engine optimization and the like.

4. Build your reputation on LinkedIn. Answering questions in your areas of expertise, joining discussion groups, and asking contacts from your contract or volunteer work to write recommendations for your profile are all good ways to raise your visibility in your field. Likewise, the more active and involved you can get in professional and trade associations, the better.

The point here is to get to know people outside of a formal job application or interview process. A person you meet informally who is looking to hire someone with your skills and qualifications, and who is impressed with you, will often want to introduce you to the company wherein the work.

Copyright © 2011, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved.Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2011, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of Mary Salvino.“Career Matters” is a blog hosted by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career Planning.com. This blog is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at Mary.Salvino@shaw.ca