Hot Career Tips for the Unemployed

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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If you are presently unemployed, your days are likely spent scouring job postings, emailing prospective employers and submitting your resume to online websites. Even the most dedicated jobseekers, however, probably have too much idle time on their hands. With no set hours or routine, it could be very tempting to get lazy.

Before you resort to sleeping into early afternoon or reaching for the remote control, there are several ways to make productive use of this time.

Here are just a few suggestions as to how you can maximize downtime that will not only keep you active, but will make you a more attractive job candidate:

Perform charity work where you can utilize your professional skills.

There are dozens of ways you can contribute work-related talents for the betterment of your community. Signing up for a volunteer post within an established organization is only one option. If you get creative, you can carve out your own niche.

For example, if you are a marketing professional, find out if your favorite charity needs help launching their latest awareness campaign. A teacher can look into helping a local literacy organization. A sales professional can help an organization find donors and raise money. A technology professional can assist with a nearby school’s computer upgrade.

Such activities not only enhance self-worth by aiding a worthwhile cause, but they also enrich your qualifications and demonstrate to an employer that you are keeping your skills sharp while unemployed. You’ll likely make valuable contacts as well. You never know who you will meet! It could just be the person volunteering next to you is looking for someone with your qualifications or knows of a position opening up in the office next door.

Accept a temporary or consulting gig.

With unemployment at the highest it has been in more than two decades, it could take a little longer to land that dream job. Broadening the scope of positions you are willing to consider may mean you have to make some compromises. If you are adamant about accepting only a full-time job, you could be inadvertently doing yourself a disservice.

If you impress an employer during the course of a temporary assignment, it could lead to bigger and better things. After all, what better way is there to convince a boss what you are capable of than actually showing them? The best case scenario is that you are offered a full-time position and your search is complete.

The flip side isn’t so bad, either. Even if it comes to an end, a temporary position will help you earn some money, make some contacts, and provide an additional credential to include on your resume. That will help fill in the dreaded employment gap while showing employers your skills are not getting rusty.

Take a course related to your field.

Whether it’s a college course for credits or a one-day seminar, enhancing your education sends an excellent message to anyone in position to hire you. It exhibits your desire to keep your skills current and shows you are using your time wisely.

To make the most of this benefit, be sure to enroll in something related to your work. Though taking a course for personal enrichment can be rewarding, it simply won’t carry as much weight as something relevant to your field. For example, a partner in an accounting firm will be more impressed with a candidate who learned about the latest tax codes than one who took a photography course.

If you participate in any of these activities, don’t forget to update your resume and cover letter to let employers know. Finally, remember that while these activities will keep you busy, don’t neglect your job search. Job hunting should always be considered your number one “job” while you are unemployed.

About the Author:

Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

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Contracting – Your Career Solution?

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC GetInterviews.com

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A silver lining to a down economy is that it stirs a spirit of entrepreneurship. When people lose their jobs, they start thinking of being their own boss or going into business for themselves. Contracting or working on a temporary basis are ways professionals take control of their career paths. Companies also look to hire temporary staff or contractors in a down economy for many reasons: it saves money on hiring costs; it saves money on employment costs such as taxes and benefits; it fills what might be a temporary need for talent in a specialized situation; and finally, it allows the company to “try before you buy” for possible permanent employees in the future.

If you are considering going down the path of independent contracting, make sure your resume and cover letter are adequately prepared for your direction. Contractors and consultants are hired for their expertise in very specific skills or areas. Your resume should be focused on your precise skill set and how you have used that skill set in the past to bring value to projects, programs, and initiatives. Here are some tips to make sure your resume shows you have the right stuff for the job.

Specific Branding Line – Objectives are generally not used in resumes these days but branding lines are. Make sure your resume has a clear branding line that establishes the focus of your resume and clues the reader in on where your expertise lies. For example, if you are an expert in collections, you might have a branding line of “Accounts Receivable Specialist”. If you have a specific technical expertise related to your goal, use the branding line to make that clear; for example, “Software Assurance Engineer – Agile Methodology”.

Core Competencies Section – Focusing on a specific expertise can be a great strategy in a tight market, and a core competencies section can make that focus laser-like. Build a keyword section in the first half of the resume, bringing in phrases, skills, and knowledge that show your expertise. These should all be detailed, not “fluff phrases” such as “Good communicator”; for example, if you are a benefits specialist, you might have keywords related to pensions, compensation analysis, or risk management.

Tech Skills Section – Technology specialists should have a strong technical skills section in addition to a core competencies section. Employers look for specific technology exposure such as operating system versions, development tools, network management tools, etc. Your tech skills section should be up-to-date and reflect skills most in demand for your goal job. Carefully consider older skills because providing an exhaustive list of extinct technologies can make you look like a dinosaur instead of someone on the leading edge.

Strong Summary Section – Keeping in mind that you are targeting consulting or contracting, it’s likely your role will not involve a great deal of strategic actions. Most consultants are hired for a specific project or need, not for fitting into a long-term, strategic program. When constructing a strong summary, it may not be wise to expound about strategic planning, long-term vision, or team building because those skills are not going to be high on the list for a great consultant.

Temporary assignments or consulting are a viable option for job seekers and many thrive on the ever-changing landscape of independent contracting. Employers also lean toward temporary hires or hiring independent consultants in a down economy because it makes sense money-wise. Everyone is seeking to get the most important things done with as little expense as possible. Historically, demand for temporary employees increases during times of recession and recovery as employers keep tight rein on budget expenditures. If you have not considered temporary assignments or working as an independent consultant, now may be the time!

About the Author:

Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

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