What to do while you are unemployed.

We are all aware of increased levels of unemployment thanks to the current economic climate. A further issue that those currently unemployed have to deal with is the fact that periods of unemployment currently tend to last longer than before. Job seekers often worry therefore that large gaps between jobs will look unimpressive on their CV and that employers will be consequently less likely to hire them. Is this really something that could hinder your progress in the job search? What should you be doing while you are unemployed to increase your marketability?

According to a recent survey, 40% of current job seekers have been out of work for more than six months. Many of us worry that such long gaps will hinder our chances of landing a job. The same survey suggests that this is not an issue however, stating that most employers are sympathetic to gaps on candidate CVs. This is the case particularly in the current climate, with 85% of employers stating that they are now more understanding of job gaps post-recession. This is not an excuse to sit back and rest on your laurels, however. Agreed, you can’t job hunt constantly – being on the hunt eight hours a day, seven days a week would drive you mad – but this time is valuable and can be used to benefit you and your job search in a broader sense. Filling these gaps with activities and experience that broaden and develop your skill set will encourage employers to look past your gap in employment and to focus on your increased suitability for the role.

So the general consensus is; don’t sit around waiting for the perfect job to fall into your lap, as the chances are it won’t! Skills can be lost if they are not utilised, so find temporary or volunteer work through which you can develop them. This shows employers that you enjoy using your skills, are raring to go and have made the most of your time. Similarly, taking a class is useful to broaden your skills. This could be your perfect opportunity to develop a relevant new skill, learn a new language or try something out that you have never had time for before. Taking a class shows employers that you are serious about what you do. Not only that, but it is good mental stimulation and gives focus, while helping to keep spirits up.

A period of unemployment is understandably a great time to network. Taking a class or doing temporary or voluntary work relevant to your field is a perfect way to do just that. As well as making new connections, you will be showing others what you can do and getting yourself known; far better than falling off the radar and sitting at home refreshing Monster! Another way to network is writing a blog. As well as helping you to network without seeming desperate, a blog will give you motivation to stay up to date with current issues relevant to your sector.

The overall goal for anybody looking for a job is to be marketable. Developing relevant skills and increasing your experience ensures just that, so a period of unemployment is the ideal time to come closer to this goal. Use your time wisely and it may well lead you to just the job you’ve been looking for.

Good Luck!

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