For many unemployed people, being unemployed has gone from a temporary situation to a permanent state. As many of the long-term unemployed have learned, once this happens, it can be extremely hard to get a job.
This has become so prevalent, many lawmakers have proposed bills to make discriminating against the unemployed illegal. In the meantime, there are a few things that can be done to help fill in that resume gap.
You don’t have to set out to get another degree but, taking a few classes to update your skills is a great way to boost your resume and show that you’re making good use of your time. Many employers say that they don’t want to hire people who have been unemployed for a long time because their skills have declined or because they may no longer be used to the daily routine of working. Taking a few classes helps to eliminate both of these biases.
An excellent class to take is an Excel course. A lot of job ads specify that candidates must be able to use Excel well. Having a certification from an Excel course is an easy way to stand out from the crowd. These courses are typically inexpensive and don’t take up a lot of time.
Another good class to take would be a Microsoft Office course. This class will help you learn the basics of the Microsoft Office Suite, which is typically made up of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher. More advanced courses will usually also include Access.
A good place to find these and other classes is the Continuing Education department of your local community college. The Continuing Education department will often offer a variety of courses aimed at professionals in several fields. Take a look at the website of the school nearest you to see what is offered.
Polish Your Speaking Skills
Just about every employer is looking for someone with strong public speaking and presentation skills. These skills are useful both in the office and when dealing with clients so, they are very important. There are a couple of different ways to improve your speaking skills.
To improve your speaking skills, you can always take a class. As I mentioned above, these classes can be found on college campuses around the nation.
Another way to improve your speaking and presentation skills would be to join a speaking group, such as Toastmasters International. Toastmasters is a group for adults who want to improve both their speaking and leadership skills. Members accomplish this by giving speeches that emphasis different presentation skills, such as using a visual aid or using body language effectively. Groups such as Toastmasters are useful because not only do they strive to improve your speaking skills but, they also provide a networking opportunity.
Freelance & Short Term Assignments
Freelance and short term assignments are good for unemployed people for two reasons: they help keep your skills sharp and they provide some income. So, go ahead and take a freelance job or a temporary assignment. If you like it, you know what you’re looking for in your job search. If you don’t, it will be over soon. Either way, you can use it to help cover up the gaps in your employment and show that you’re still in the routine of working,
Volunteering is another great way to show that you’re using your time off wisely and that you’re used to working and interacting with people. It also shows that you have a strong work ethic and that you’re compassionate. All in all, volunteering provides a lot of benefits to you.
Volunteer work is especially beneficial if you can find something that is related to your field. If you’re in finance or accounting, this could mean working on the books of a nonprofit. Or, if you’re in marketing, it could mean working on a marketing campaign for your chosen organization. Even if you can’t find something related to your field, volunteering is still a great way to enhance your resume and to network with people in your community.
Many of these activities are helpful not only to the long-term unemployed but, also to recent graduates who have never had a job before. Both of these groups need creative ways to demonstrate their skills to employers and ways to meet people to add to their network.
Being unemployed can be difficult. But, if you work to improve your resume and to improve your skills, you’ll be a much more competitive job applicant. Your resume will be more impressive and you will have more talking points in a job interview. Combined, these two things will help you considerably in your job search.
How do you improve your professional skills outside of the office? What steps have you taken to improve your resume during your period of unemployment?
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About the author: Jen Small is a writer who is originally from South Florida. A former recruiter for a Fortune 500 company, she has also worked in several different industries – real estate, insurance, construction, and education. Jen has now taken this experience to help others as a resume writer and designer. She currently lives and works in South Korea.