Resume & Career Advice

January 10, 2011

How to Increase Your Value While Unemployed

Unemployment

Do you know your best options when facing unemployment?

As tempting as sitting on the couch, watching soap opera reruns and eating microwave popcorn while waiting for calls from prospective employers might be, they’re surely not the best bet to get you out of unemployment.  In fact, your unemployment status might just be the best time for you to increase your value to employers.

The average American stays unemployed for 33 weeks, and unless you do something about it, you could just add “and counting” to that.  When you submit a resume,that eight-month period when you don’t have a job is eye-catching—but not in a good way.  Make sure that that time of inactivity is anything but.

For one, try to find part time or freelance work. Nearly thirty million others do it, so it’s not about the lack of part time jobs.  But even if you are unable to find one, you can also sign up for numerous volunteer work and activities.  Especially when relevant to your skills and qualifications, part time jobs and volunteer work could actually be more than time-passers and resume space-fillers; they could actually convince employers that you want to be productive, and would thus be a valuable employee.

During your “extended vacation” from work, you could also enroll in a few classes or take certain courses that would improve your knowledge. Depending on your industry, there also are certifications and affiliations that would help you advance in your career.  You will probably be hard-pressed to spend on these, but simply consider them investments for your future.  If you are strapped on cash, you could rummage through the web for tutorials to improve your skills.  Take advantage of the time by improving something as simple as your Excel skills, your typing speed, or something else you wouldn’t have time for if you had a full time job.

Also, don’t allow your time off to render yourself obsolete. Keep up with the current trends in the field you belong in by reading industry news, visiting websites, subscribing to blog feeds, or writing blogs yourself.  You wouldn’t want to go to your first interview in almost a year, armed with outdated keywords that would give away your time in the living room.

Finally, use your time unemployed by reconnecting with your networks. Aside from getting news about the prom queen or hearing how your college roommate is doing, you could use your connections to get a job.  After all, eighty percent of jobs are found through networking.  Relying on job postings alone will not remove you from the 9.8%.

In the end, always remember that just because you’re unemployed, doesn’t mean you should be inactive.

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