5 Things To Do If You're Unemployed

Unemployed man thinks about what to do

Know the saying, “Applying to jobs is a full-time job"? Don't listen to it.

Applying to jobs you're not qualified for is counterproductive to your job search. Competition is too fierce. Even qualified applicants aren't getting callbacks. So, stop applying to so many jobs and allocate time each week to becoming more hirable. Here's how:

1. Volunteer

Young unemployed woman volunteering at a donation drive to fill time while she looks for a job


Volunteering can increase your chances of being hired if you're strategic about it. Unemployed teacher? Help out with after-school programs or volunteer to be a coach's assistant. Web designer? Find a local non-profit in desperate need of a redesign and offer your services pro bono. By volunteering somewhere relevant, you'll keep your skills fresh while enhancing your resume.

2. Keep Your Skills Current

If you lack a skill commonly required for jobs you're seeking, spend time each day developing that skill. Take advantage of numerous free resources online, including tutorials, eBooks, and how-to videos. If you'd rather have more of a class setup, then look for free or affordable classes in your area. Alternatively, if you already possess the necessary skills but haven't been practicing, then do so. Skill atrophy is a huge concern for hiring managers, so practice and get yourself ready for pre-employment skills tests.

3. Network, Network, Network

Man builds his professional network


There are two parts to networking: reconnecting with your old contacts and forming new ones.

Depending on where you are in your career, reconnecting might mean contacting professors, college advisers, and internship supervisors, or it might mean getting in touch with old colleagues, bosses, and business acquaintances. Find them, email them, call them. Ask them if they would like to grab a coffee. Ask how they are (networking is social, after all) and let them know the specifics of your job search (industry, location, etc.). See if they know of anything or anyone. Most importantly, follow up!

At a temporary dead-end with your current contacts? Make new ones. Go to networking events sponsored by your university, industry, city, and so on. And look beyond traditional networking events. Consider going to lectures, neighborhood council meetings, and even community bar crawls (go easy on the sauce).

Each of these provides an opportunity to meet people with similar interests, and you can have fun in the process. Again, follow up!

4. Freelance

Woman tries freelancing for work


Some job seekers are opposed to anything that's not a full-time job. If this sounds like you, it's time to change your mindset. Freelancing is a great way to boost your skills, resume, portfolio, professional network, income, and confidence.

5. Build An Online Presence

Young unemployed man establishing an online presence by writing a blog post while he's looking for work


Get found online. Start a blog, spruce up your social media profiles, and/or create an online portfolio to showcase your work. Find companies you're interested in working for, subscribe to their blogs, and follow them on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Find decision-makers at those companies and follow them as well. Learn what they're talking about, do a little research, and then engage with them online. Impress them with your interest and insights.

Worst-case scenario: You'll learn what's important to them and use this information to customize your application when a job opens up.

Better-case scenario: You'll establish a rapport with someone who will recommend you for a position and/or tell you about hidden job openings.

Best-case scenario: You'll impress someone so much over time that they'll create a job for you or bring you in for an exploratory interview.

So, what are you doing to become more hirable? If you aren't doing anything, then consider doing one (or more!) of these things, starting today.

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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