Finding a job can be tough sometimes; often there are too few jobs and too many applicants. It’s easy to feel like giving up, especially if you have been applying for job after job for months, with little or no success. Still, just because you haven’t gotten a job, doesn’t mean that you should sit back and accept the fact that you are never going to get one. You have to have a proactive attitude when it comes to your job search, and one of the best ways to do this is to update your resume even if you don’t have a full-time job to put on it. There are many ways to keep your resume fresh during a long break from work, and this is a very important step to take; most employers won’t want to see a large empty hole between jobs. Here are five ways you can make your resume impressive even if you can’t get a full-time job.
Volunteering is one of the best ways you can fill a hole in your resume. Not only does volunteering make you look like you are using your time to make a difference, but it can even open doors to a new job. When you volunteer, you use skills you already have to help others for free (and hopefully gain a positive reference in the process), but you might also learn new skills that could help you in your job search, like project management, sales, and leadership skills. You also might potentially impress those reviewing your resume when you apply to jobs, because many companies prioritize social responsibility. You also might be the first person your volunteer boss thinks of when a position opens up at the place you are volunteering.
2. Take classes or update your skills in other ways
Even if you already have an advanced degree or years of experience in your field, taking college or graduate courses can look impressive on a resume. Regardless of whether or not you really need the credit, most interviewers will appreciate that you are using your free time to learn new skills. You can also learn new skills by taking individual courses, webinars, or other educational opportunities that are available online. That way even if you can’t get to a local campus that offers a class you think would benefit you, you can at least keep learning.
If possible, try to take classes that will look impressive on your resume. Courses that directly relate to the job you want are ideal, but even courses related to your field are a great way to update your skills. Computer skills are necessary in most positions, so if your skills are rusty, consider a computer course. Leadership trainings are also often seen in a positive light. Updating your skills will help you be more confident about your work, and have the possibility to be more valuable to an employer in the future.
3. Attend conferences
Work conferences are a great way to learn about important issues related to your field, and to have relevant conversations that keep your work-related vocabulary fresh and up-to-date. If possible, you should apply to present at a conference; conference presentations look particularly impressive and ambitious on a resume. Publishing your work is also a great way to add to your resume.
In addition to being a resume builder, attending a conference can be a great way to network. If you want to meet people who work in your desired field or job, work conferences are the place to do it. You could potentially meet a contact who could help you find a job, or at least, who might be able to point you in the right direction. Even if you don’t meet someone who can help you right now, you never know when a contact might help you in the future.
4. Take any work you can get
Many out-of-work people are afraid to take a low-paying job, or a job that is at a job class much lower than their previous position, because it might look bad to future employees. However, at some point, you have to work; most employers will understand this. If you are really worried, you can always explain why you took a specific job once you get an interview for a job you actually want. Working at all will look better than not working (in most cases.)
Consider taking a part-time job, seasonal, or working with a temp agency; these jobs are often designed to be short-term and can fill in while you wait for the job you want. It’s great if you an get a temporary job related to what you want to do, but at some point, any job is better than a glaring empty spot on your resume.
5. Reevaluate your resume
If you truly believe that you have the right skills and experience to get the job you want, then you may need to look over your resume again. Is your resume easy to read and organized? Does your resume show all your skills and your experience in a positive and clear manner (as opposed to just expecting that your cover letter will tell your experience for you)?
One of the most important questions to ask yourself is whether or not you are using an appropriate vocabulary for your resume. Certain words will detract from your resume, especially subjective terms (because they are your opinion and not proven to the person reviewing the resume.) You should also avoid vague or over-used words that don’t clearly explain anything. Avoid the following words or phrases: highly qualified, results focused, effectual leader, energetic, confident, and professional. Instead, use words and examples that prove you can do the job. If you need help, consider having a friend, or if possible, another professional in your field (or hiring professional), review your resume for you.
It is frustrating being unable to find a job, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything else. Volunteer, take some classes, or take on a temporary job. The more you can do during your break from full-time work, the more likely you will get an interview, and hopefully a job, sooner.