For the long-term unemployed, time drags. There are only so many resumes and cover letters you can send out, only so many informational interviews you can schedule, and only so many contacts you can meet for lunch.
It’s a challenging time. You want to make sure your work skills don’t stagnate while using this downtime productively.
Here are some ways to keep your skills up-to-date, or learn some new ones to make yourself more competitive.
1. Join a local business interest group. Check into which local organizations offer classes along with networking opportunities. And don’t just sit back and stay quiet. Volunteer for committees and help out at events. You’ll get noticed and put yourself in front of a lot of different people.
2. Training classes. Your state employment office can tell you about training and certification classes that are available at little ot no cost. You can polish up the skills you already have or get certified in something new and expand your career search.
3. Don’t drop your industry association memberships. If you’re unemployed, you can often continue your membership with these groups for free, or at a reduced cost. You’ll continue to get all the news and more opportunities to network. Use the information they send you (magazines, newsletters, emails) to stay on top of the latest changes in your industry.
4. Take a class. Community colleges offer a wide range of classes at very reasonable cost — or even free. Get out and take advantage of their programs. You might start out with entry-level coursework in a subject that inspires you to continue on into a whole new career direction.
5. Teach a class. Community colleges are often looking for experts to teach classes on a variety of subjects. If you have a skill (photography, writing, carpentry, cooking, web site development, just to name a few) they’ll probably be thrilled to have you teach an adult outreach course. As an added bonus, you can earn a little money for your efforts while adding something to your resume.
6. Volunteer with a local organization. Whatever your interest, there’s probably an organization that would love to have you volunteer. From animal welfare to politics to conservation to performing arts, you can do good while keeping your skills current and updating your resume. And don’t discount the networking potential of volunteering with people who share the same passion you do.
I’m sure my readers have other suggestions. What would you do to keep your skills current during a job search?