by Kate Willson
Unemployment is one of the hardest things to deal with at any point of someone's professional life. As recent college graduates, a period of unemployment is basically expected in today's economy. Students have been bombarded with warnings about the dismal job market, their lack of experience, and the stiff competition they'll face come graduation. With ample time to prepare mentally, the only reasonable thing to do is hit the job market running and prepare for a productive period of unemployment post-graduation. There are few things more disheartening than receiving rejection letter after rejection letter once you've completed your all-powerful degree and seen your gaping student loan debt. That being said, there are plenty of productive things you can do to "sell" your time of unemployment on a resume and in an interview. Consider these resume-building activities to supplement your resume during unemployment.
Staying active and busy during unemployment is very important. The biggest problem with periods of unemployment on a resume is that it can be perceived as "slack" time. Moreover, falling into a habit of inactivity is a surefire way to lose your spirit and drive. Volunteering is a wonderful way to combat stagnancy during unemployment and supplement your resume. While this can't help you out with a paycheck, it can be a wonderful way to make professional contacts, stay busy, and get a taste of the professional area you're interested in working. Explore the various volunteer options in your area. Try to find something in an area related to the kind of work you're interested in doing as a career. By volunteering in an area that is related to your desired job, you can gain professional experience and you can more easily make useful professional contacts. So much of the working world is about knowing the right people and networking, that volunteering can be a really great opportunity to meet people already active in the professional realm.
Take Up a Hobby
While this may sound trite for employment advice, having a steady hobby can actually be a very useful thing during unemployment and for interviews. The most dreaded interview question when you're out of work is "what do you do with your time?" Not having an answer to this needlessly nosey question can be disastrous. By dedicating your time to a hobby during unemployment, you'll always have something to discuss in interviews. Moreover, this can help you feel active and alert during your down time. Feeling lazy, unmotivated, and somewhat useless during unemployment is common, but also damaging. Find passion and drive in a new (or old) hobby. If you can pick something that somehow relates to the line of work you are pursuing, that's even better.
As the world online education becomes more and more advanced, new avenues to supplement your resume and education are cropping up everywhere. Open courseware is one of the most promising new areas of online education that can benefit people everywhere. As someone looking for work and stuck in an unemployment slump, open courseware can be a wonderful way to add to your skills, stay active, and look great on paper. MIT is actually offering official university certificates for certain open courseware classes completed online. Take courses that can make you a more competitive candidate in the job market. Think of what areas of education you are lacking in and consider what skills or subjects might give you a leg up. While these courses can't necessarily act as official educational experience, they are great options during unemployment. Expanding your mind is always a worthwhile endeavor and employers will recognize that.
Posted by Steve Brady