Hunting, searching, pounding the pavement, and putting out feelers. Whether you have been laid off or are just searching for a better opportunity, an employment search means having to sell yourself right at the time when you are feeling stuck, low, and craving change. It can be disheartening, but it doesn’t have to be. Whatever your motivation to job search, this is the time to revitalize your life, both professionally, and personally.
Each of these tips will keep you energized, updated, connected and motivated during this time when it is so easy to get into a rut and discourage yourself.
Volunteer Your Time – “What time?” you say. Even volunteering once or twice a month can open doors. You have skills and experience that can benefit your community. Whether you donate that time to a non profit, school, or other community organization, you will be getting just as much back in the way of professional contacts, recommendations, and job leads. You can even use the opportunity to develop skills and gain experience that you don’t yet have; experience that will get you your next job. Volunteering is also an excellent way to get your foot in the door in a field that you want to try out, or build your skills in. No matter what you are interested in doing, there is always an organization willing to give you the opportunity. Advertising, writing, graphic design, teaching, public relations, caregiving….the opportunities are endless. Try going to http://www.volunteermatch.org/ to find an organization waiting to partner with you in your next skill building venture!
Get Involved in Some Professional Organizations – If you already have a membership to a professional organization, now is the time to get more involved. These organizations are there to provide you with networking opportunities, publications to keep you up to date on your industry, and leadership experience. Get involved in organizing the next conference, or run for a leadership position. Not ready for that? Log on to their website and get involved in the online community, posting your own questions and answering others. You’ll learn more about the job climate in your industry and maybe even make a name for yourself for when you are interested in taking your involvement to the next level. Don’t have the money to pay dues? While some organizations have reduced and student rates, you don’t have to pay dues to log onto their website or to get involved in their discussions via LinkedIn. Staying active in professional organizations shows employers that you care about your work and are at the top of your game. Check out this exhaustive list of organizations at http://www.weddles.com/associations/index.cfm.
Get Social – You are not alone! There are others in your community who, like you, are looking to move up and grow professionally. Frequent some meet up groups in your area. This is a casual, friendly environment in which to learn the inside scoop on your local job market. You’ll meet contacts; stay aware of who is hiring for what, and who is vacating their position, and what it’s like in other workplaces. If your professional organizations don’t host local meetups, you can find them on LinkedIn.com or Meetup.com.
Showcase Yourself Online – Google yourself. Go ahead, do it right now. What is the first hit for your online presence? Is it your Facebook? Not great. How about your LinkedIn? That’s getting better. Or is it your professional website/blog? Awesome! Try starting a blog recording your body of work, and discussing the latest trends in your field. Show potential employers that you are actively seeking to share in a dialogue about your field, and showcase your enthusiasm and expertise while you’re at it! There are plenty of free blogging and web hosting platforms, try www.wordpress.com or www.blogger.com . If professional blogging is new to you, try reading blogs with similar topics, and get a feel for the online community. And start here for some dos and don’ts: http://smartboydesigns.com/2012/01/09/top-blogging-dos-donts/ .
Take a Chance on Something New – So you’re busy now making a name for yourself in your professional community. You’re an up and comer, a mover and shaker. It’s a lot of work! Remember that using all these ways to sell yourself, is a job in and of itself. And if you forget the rest of your life, you’ll burn out. Try something completely unrelated to what you have been doing. You could teach yourself a new skill, explore something just for fun. You might find a fun meet up while you’re looking for a professional one. You might choose to volunteer somewhere fun. You can teach yourself anything from carpentry to crafting with YouTube. Don’t forget, you’re a vibrant person, not “Employ-me-bot 5000”. You might discover a hidden talent or passion.