An employment gap can be daunting, especially when you’re struggling to land a job and feel your work history gap is holding you back. Whether you’ve been laid off or chose to take a break from the workforce, it’s important to use your time to your advantage. Even when you’re spending much of your time job hunting, take time to focus on these five habits to build your résumé and keep your skills current during an employment gap.
Read. Every field is different, but each one has trade publications that cover the latest news and trends specific to that industry. By reading trade publications, you’ll stay up-to-date on information you need to know to compete with other job candidates who haven’t left the industry. You can access many of these publications online or at your local library. Remaining knowledgeable about your profession will help you remain relevant to potential employers.
Volunteer. If you don’t use the skills you have, you lose them. In this competitive job market, it’s critical to keep your skills sharp and active. Consider volunteering in your community with an organization that will allow you to continue using your job skills. Then, list your volunteer activities and the skills you used on your résumé to show potential employers your experience. Volunteering your time and talents will also allow you to build important contacts, helping to expand your job search.
Continue Your Education. Technology and training are always changing, which makes continued education an important differentiator. Community colleges and vocational schools often offer low-cost career development classes for adults, so enroll in a class that will benefit your job search and your skill set. Consider classes that focus on communication, computer technology, or industry specific courses that will build your knowledge base and elevate your value to employers.
Freelance. Much like volunteering, taking on a freelance project requires you to practice your skills, use your knowledge, and put your experience to work. Doing freelance work can also help you supplement your income while you search for a more consistent job. Seek out freelance opportunities from companies you’d like to work for full time. This can help you get your foot in the door and build your professional network.
Network. Now is a great time to build your network of those who know you personally and professionally. Continue to meet new people, reconnect with former co-workers and supervisors, and build on your current relationships to broaden your job opportunities. When you’re hunting for a job, sometimes your established network will be the first to tell you about a job or refer you for a position. By staying connected through your contacts, your name will be top of mind when employers begin looking for the right person for the job.
Instead of worrying about gaps in your work history, use your time wisely by building your résumé, polishing your skills, and seeking out job opportunities. Give yourself an edge over your competition by focusing on these five habits when you’re without a job. Be persistent, and you may just land the job you’ve been working toward!