Down, Not Out

By Sharon Naylor

May 1, 2009 5 min read

DOWN, NOT OUT

Use out-of-work time to increase your employability

Sharon Naylor

Creators News Service

If you're out of a job, you have two choices: Lie on the couch and watch television or turn your free time into a campaign to uplift yourself and increase your employability sooner. An era of hardship can motivate you take steps that lead to greater success.

Here are the top 10 tactics for turning your unemployment era into a plan for improved hireability:

1) First, acknowledge the triad of your goals right now: Uplift yourself physically and emotionally, build new skills and credits for your resume, and network -- all of which will elevate your odds of landing a satisfying new job sooner. "Stop spinning about what's not possible and test what you're really capable of [now]," said Jonathan Fields, author of "Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love" ($14, Broadway). "Complete five small tasks every day. Make five phone calls, write five e-mails or network with five people."

2) Find your passions. "Own up to what makes you come alive," said Fields. "You've known what you love to do for years, but haven't done it out of fear of being judged or failing. Now is the time to own up to your passion, then go renegade to make it your living. In this economy, everyone has to think and act like an entrepreneur and take charge of their own futures."

Being down but not out often presents the freedom and opportunity to establish one's dream business. Or, on a non-entrepreneurial front, your passions may inspire your creativity or relax you.

3) Get educated. Now is the time to get certified and take classes. Community night schools often offer an array of business, marketing, financial and other career-savvy classes for under $30 each. James Urhausen, founder and partner of consulting and recruitment firm Clarity Resource Group, said, "This is a great time to go get certifications in your field, sharpen your skills, and be able to quantify how you spent your downtime" when interviewers ask how you spent your unemployment weeks or months.

You don't even need a classroom. Research the newest innovations and market moves in your field. While office workers are putting in their hours, you have the time to read up on international news, market trends as well as attend seminars.

4) Fill in the gaps. Look at your resume, credits list and recommendations. Ask a trusted friend or a higher-up in your field to review your resume and don't hold back in critiquing where your credits may be lacking. Once you discover it, figure out what you need to do to supplement those pieces.

5) Maximize your online time. Upgrade your LinkedIn profile with your most current and impressive credits, recommendations from former bosses and colleagues and create a more saleable image of yourself that works for you. Down time can also be spent searching for colleagues and contacts -- through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter -- with whom you can reconnect for your networking and introductory needs.

6) Reconnect with family and friends. They can serve as a vast networking circle to connect you with job opportunities, but they also lift you up on a personal level, which is vital during a anxiety-filled, stressful time of unemployment.

7) Start writing. Having professional writing credits is a boost to your resume, and Fields suggested that you spend some time blogging on influential topics, Tweeting, posting comments on important industry blogs and websites and contributing articles to your industry association's newsletter. The writing may be enjoyable, and you collect a quantifiable list of writing credits as an authority in your field.

8) Improve your professional image. Assess your work wardrobe to see if you can create a more polished look by getting a new suit or shirt for interviews. An image boost contributes to your well-being, too.

9) Join the top professional associations in your industry if you don't belong already. Becoming a "member of the club" exposes you to insider announcements of upcoming job openings, breaking news on developments in your industry, free or discounted classes and networking with fellow members.

10) Volunteer. Charitable work looks great on a resume, and volunteer opportunities such as dinners and marathons immerse you in crowds of like-minded people for valuable networking opportunities. Check out volunteermatch.org for an array of charities' personnel needs near you.

You only get this kind of time freedom a few times in your life, -- so use your time wisely as you boost your employability and perhaps reach a higher level of position and pay than before.

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