While you’re waiting for your next opportunity, you can use your time productively in the following ways. It may just have a ripple effect on your career!
- Audit your online profiles. Would you be comfortable sharing everything on your social media profiles with a prospective employer? If not, it’s time for some spring cleaning of your social networking accounts! Once you’ve rooted out anything that so much as hints at unprofessionalism, audit your profiles again, this time to assure that you have a cohesive online identity.
- Participate in online conversations. Make a list of your core competencies then find online groups where you can put your expertise to work. Sure, it might not pay the bills today (you need a short term strategy for that), but you need to think long-term (weeks from now, this strategy might literally pay your bills if you garner the attention of the right people and end up landing a job). Enter conversations where you can display your knowledge and skill and get noticed by influencers in your field. A hidden benefit of this tactic is that it can keep you in a winning mindset even when you’re out of a job or in a job you don’t like. When I’ve been between jobs, it got demoralizing sending out so many applications and hearing precious little back. With this strategy, the ultimate goal is to develop relationships and build credibility and no one needs to offer you a job for you to accomplish this task. Another facet of this technique is that it demonstrates peer-group leadership which is highly sought after by employees in any economy.
- Define your area of expertise then start blogging about it. WordPress.com makes this so easy that your dog could do it. Plus, it’s free and YouTube tutorials are your friend for any questions you may have along the way. You can either download stock photos for a small fee through Shutterstock.com or start taking your own pictures (don’t steal random photos off the internet or use others’ photos without permission). A fringe benefit is that you now have one more skill to add to your resume: blogging. You can even list WordPress as a software you have expertise in.
- Build your network. Having a thriving social network is attractive to employers. In every field, it consistently helps people get jobs and –once they’re in a job—to get the job done. There’s nothing like face to face interactions, but the internet has heralded in an age in which even if you’re an introvert and wouldn’t be caught dead at a Chamber of Commerce event, you can make your presence known and build connections online. See social media as a job—you’ll get out of it what you put into it.
- Volunteer your way to a new career. If your profession is in low demand, it may be time to revamp yourself–and with the internet it’s easier than ever to identify organizations with volunteer opportunities. Look to your hobbies, interests, and talents and volunteer your time with your favorite local nonprofit. You wouldn’t be the first person who was recognized and offered a staff position. And in the meantime, you’ll have someplace to go (ideally every day with flexibility to leave for interviews) and something to feel good about. Connectingvolunteers.org is Sarasota County’s clearinghouse for volunteer positions, while Volunteermatch.org and Pointsoflight.org match volunteers with nonprofit organizations and are national in scope. Another possibility to consider is that some volunteer positions come with living stipends, tuition reimbursement, and/or other benefits like health insurance. Check out AmeriCorps.gov for opportunities in your area.