Resume & Career Advice

January 10, 2011

How to Increase Your Value While Unemployed


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  You wouldn’t want to go to your first interview in almost a year, armed with outdated keywords that would give away your time in the living room.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.


June 21, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful: An Update on the Economy

Filed under: Employment,Recession,Unemployment — chris2010 @ 10:25 AM
Tags: , , ,
Surviving the Recession

Are we now back on track?

There still remain a lot of things to complain about, but that doesn’t mean we can’t heave a collective sigh of relief.  If the 162,000 additional jobs ushered in by March is any indication, things are definitely getting better.  After two years of living under the worst depression since the 1930s, we can now perhaps say that life is good again: People are earning more and buying more cars, factories are being asked to produce more goods, and malls are reporting an increase in sales.  Canada looks just as promising.  With all the positive signs of a better economy, there are those who maintain that the recession is practically over.

The economy is indeed looking up, the problem is if it will stay that way.  Early in 2010, analysts feared a double dip: that the economy will get better before going bad again.  One economist particularly pointed at the second half of this year—when stimulus starts to fade—as the beginning of the second wave of recessions.  So, we may not see signs of falling now, but it could still happen.  In fact, even if we don’t get any worse, positive changes could be very gradual, at best.  We are still poorer now and have fewer jobs than earlier in the decade.  Times may be better, but are they really “good?”

Still, the beauty of an improving economy is it makes it easier for everyone to chip in, to do their part to further improve our situation.  White House Chief Economist Christina Romer decried people who “talk about unemployment remaining high for an extended period with resignation, rather than with a sense of urgency to find ways to address the problem.”  Which attitude are we going to adopt?

This vivid chart of US unemployment rates shows that we’re a long way from the good ol’ times.  But if nothing else, this present economy has given us a chance to help ourselves.  As part of the number of people who are either employed or unemployed, we can help.  We can find ways to address the problem.  Proving ourselves highly qualified for the jobs that employers are offering—even for those which they are not—is a good start.  Let’s help employers help us.

June 7, 2010

Reinventing Yourself During the Recession

Losing a job is relatively a more difficult experience for someone who has been employed almost all his life. Recessions do not distinguish among people and, unfortunately, even the person with the highest credentials may be left jobless just as easily as any other else. But if there’s one good thing about economic crisis, it’s the fact that people learn to think of innovative and great ways to deal with the negative consequences. Learn how one of our writers coped with unemployment by totally reinventing herself. Below is her narrative.

Here I am, writing Web copy and immersing myself in the intricacies of keywords and Search Engine Optimization – all without pay while my work is evaluated by a lady young enough to be my daughter. Unlike some of my well-meaning friends who were aghast at this turn of events caused by our economic crisis, I see this as a step towards self-reinvention, not demotion.

I continue to send online resumes during my off-hours. Evenings, I still make time to network with former bosses and colleagues to get job leads and promote that I’m once again out on the market. But this half-day internship in this start-up online magazine actually helps me learn the latest trends about online media. Doing them hands-on by myself polishes my skills. An education in itself, it’s something I would have relegated to my staff in my old job as editor-in-chief of a now defunct business newspaper.

This non-paying stint is my first big break in months. Constant rejections after three months of steadfast application have been discouraging. To remove the stress, I’d swap notes and share leads with other unemployed friends. I’d go to the public library and bone up on the latest resume-writing techniques and job interview tips. To relax, I borrow and read books, since my depleted savings and welfare checks have forced me to cancel my gym membership and cable TV. Another inexpensive way I use to cope with stress is jogging around the block every morning.

The internship also has removed my bouts of unemployment depression and given me hope. Once the economy rebounds, my new online abilities combined with my editorial management experience will give me stronger leverage in my next job interview. My resume will show that, while others were lounging at home, I was actually doing something productive in-between jobs!

This testimonial and in a certain degree, a success story, emphasizes the need to reinvent one’s self during a crisis to keep focus on certain career goals. It is truly noteworthy that a person caught in a bind by difficult circumstances must not give up and throw in the towel. As all other endeavors we could possibly face, it is best to look for ways to take negative things in a positive light.

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