HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF EMPLOYABLE—EVEN WHEN YOU’RE UNEMPLOYED
Featured post by Careercardio.com
Call it fun-employment, a transition, sabbatical, or much needed break to stave off career burn-out, there are increasing numbers of modern workers who, for one reason or another, find themselves in a period where they are unemployed.
But in 2016’s gig economy, “unemployed” doesn’t necessarily mean what it used to. There are more and more people working a patchwork of jobs and creative hustles to both pay the bills and do work they care about. Not having an office to turn up to Monday to Friday doesn’t mean you have to be completely unproductive and create that dreaded “dead space” on your resume.
What’s more is that the creative projects and exploratory activities you have time to take on when you’re not chained to office hours can end up becoming jobs in and of themselves. Or, at the very least, make you much more employable when your future boss is scanning your resume. Here are some ways to make yourself employable—even if you’re unemployed.
1. The answer to the question “what are you working on?” should never be nothing. Whether you’re writing a screenplay, building your personal website, helping a friend brand their new venture, or building a succulent garden in your background, you should always have an answer when someone asks you: “What are you working on?” This leads to more questions, conversations, connections, and interactions—which are the currency of career building. Remember that your time is not only worth something when you’re getting paid for it, so make sure you use it productively. Not sure what you want to do? Read number 6.
2. Say “yes” to everything. Been invited to an exhibition, event, or opportunity you’re unsure about attending? Afraid you won’t know anyone there or you’ll feel awkward or it won’t be that interesting? Go! Introduce yourself to everyone. Ask people what they do and what they’re working on. Be interested and interesting and you never know who you will meet. Equally, don’t be afraid to suggest IRL meetings with people you may not know that well. If someone hooks you up with a super-connected person while you’re traveling through their city, don’t ignore the opportunity. Embrace being a bit of a social butterfly – knowing lots of people, even just a little bit, works.
3. Get your online life in order. Your future employer, client, or investor—whoever they end up being—is going to vet you online, so use this downtime to make sure that they will be impressed by what they find. Make sure you’re somewhat active on social media and posting content that conveys your interests, professional or not. In addition, one of the fundamental tenets of Career Cardio is that a succinct, up-to-date, and holistic bio needs to be discoverable when someone searches you online. Whether it’s on your LinkedIn profile or personal website, make sure there’s a place where someone can find out about who you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going next in 150 words or less.
4. Volunteer, because life is about more than work. Spending your time to get out of your own career rut and use it to better your community is one of the best things you can do. It also can lead to worthwhile connections in all areas of your life. There is no better place to run into people you wouldn’t normally meet than a volunteer project.
5. Remember that weak ties are more important than strong ties. It’s not who you know, but who your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers know. Remember that 70 per cent of jobs aren’t even advertised. Don’t assume you’re not connected – branch out, tell people what you’re doing, and forge new connections. Once you make a strong impression with your strong ties, you never know when you may pop into their minds down the line. That’s why it’s a good strategy, in your follow-up email, to say something like “I’m currently looking for entry level or junior positions in the creative marketing world. If you hear of anything or know of anyone that might have an opportunity for me or insight in this realm, I’d be so appreciative.” Be polite, be gracious, be succinct.
6. Follow your curiosity. A lot of career juncture advice exhorts you to “follow your passion,” but there are a lot of people who are unsure of just what their passion is. If that’s you, do the next best thing: follow your curiosity. As Elizabeth Gilbert writes in her book, Big Magic, “Passion is rare; curiosity is everyday.” In other words, curiosity, when nurtured and given time to grow, can often lead to passion. You don’t have to feel divinely called to some pursuit to start doing it, you just have to be curious and open to where it takes you next.