Job-hunting can be both tiresome and discouraging. You may have the skills and experience in some cases but it may be a long wait before you find a good fit. What should you be doing with all the free time you have meanwhile? We give you some constructive advice.
You’re a recent graduate. The excitement of your graduation is slowly wearing off, and it’s finally dawning on you that you’re in the real world and will have to get a real job. Maybe you were already working but are now out of a job for one reason or the other. Sometimes it takes a while to get what you’re looking for in as far as jobs are concerned.
You may be thinking that you should sit back, relax and enjoy your free time while it lasts. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though it is important to think ahead and stay focused on the future. Your job hunt may take longer than anticipated. It’s important to do something productive in the meantime, to not only keep you occupied, but also show potential employers that you were not just lounging on your couch, watching movies. Here are a few options you can consider.
Intern. Working as an intern, whether paid or unpaid, is a great way to get job experience, whether it’s your first time to start working or you’re in between jobs. It’s also a good way to get good contacts, network and grow your skills. If you were already working, don’t feel like you’re too big for an internship. If you get one while still job hunting, go ahead and take it. You never know, it could chart the path for your next career.
Take a temporary job or assignment. It could be as short as one month or even one week. Nonetheless, it is an opportunity to get people to see your work and demonstrate your aptitude for work. If you do a great job on temporary assignment, it could earn you a great recommendation or even land you a permanent position.
Volunteer. Volunteering is another great activity to pursue as you wait. Like interning, it is a great way to grow your knowledge, especially if it entails something away from your field. It also gives you a chance to get some career direction, and gives you an opportunity to help your community, which in the end gives one a great sense of fulfilment. It also shows your future employers that you are passionate about something and care about helping others.
How should you go about volunteering? Your volunteering should be strategic. As much as you would like to give your time at a children’s home or any other cause of your choice, when volunteering you should at least target an area in your industry if possible. For instance a children’s home would be good if you are in the social work field.
Network. Networking, which has been covered in this column before is a good way to connect with influencers, thought leaders, and other professionals in your industry so as to promote your skills and experience. The great thing about networking in today’s world is that you can do it from the comfort of your home. You can build and expand your network of professional contacts through various social media platforms like LinkedIn and BranchOut, among others.
You could also join a professional organisation in your field. For instance, a public relations professional could join the Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK), a marketer could join the Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK), and so on. Send out your CV to as many relevant organisations as you can and let your friends, family and professional contacts know that you’re looking for a job. You could also mention the organisations you’re interested in.
Start your own business. You can start a business if you have the means to do it. Not only is it a great CV booster, but it’s also a good marketing tool and a great way to learn new skills. Since it’s your own business, you can continue doing it on the side even after you land a job. Who knows, it could end up being the job you are looking for!
Build your skills and knowledge. You could opt to go back to school and take a course in something relevant to your career. You could also teach, if you get the chance, especially if you have knowledge and experience in your field. Starting a professional blog is another option. It’s a good way to market yourself and puts you forward as an expert in your field, as well as conveys your passion.
It’s also a way of gaining more knowledge as you read and research. Lastly, deepen your knowledge in your field by reading materials or watching documentaries related to your field. These activities keep you intellectually stimulated and continue to mould you into the ideal job candidate.
Stay informed. Be in the know about current trends in your industry by following the news and industry updates. Also, seek out information on job openings in your field.
Published in November 2012