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Things you can be doing while job-hunting to upskill

The job hunt is an uphill battle. Particularly right around now, when most companies have a hiring freeze in place, it can feel totally impossible to break past that polite rejection letter. Or worse, getting no response at all.

The modern job-hunting scene is complicated, seemingly arbitrary at times and can be extremely disheartening. Because most of it has gone online these days, we feel the need to compact ourselves into a 300 word letter, a 2 page CV, that doesn’t accurately portray your passion – and God forbid you actually use the word 'passion'!

Our point is, it can get exhausting sometimes, constantly putting yourself out there and receiving nothing in return. And although your life may feel consumed by applications right now, there are other things you can try doing right now to make sure that this time isn’t wasted or unproductive.

Up-skill

Crop unrecognizable lady wearing light blue shirt sitting at table with wireless computer and working remotely in daytime

This one seems obvious, but it’s hard not to get bogged down in all the different job postings that come out each day. The job will still be up tomorrow. Take today to do something different. It will be good not only for your skill set, but your mindset to try something different and gain expertise in something totally new!

There are loads of free and cheap courses online where you can get qualifications in whatever you like. Your local library probably has a database full of courses that are 6-10 hours long and leave you with a new feather in your cap by the end of it. Everyone is looking for diverse hires these days and the modern job candidate has to be able to do it all. So, brush up on your marketing skills, or strategic planning, or even just something for yourself that you’ve always wanted to try like an art class or creative writing. It shows initiative.

Volunteer

two women wearing blue and white t-shirts during daytime

If you aren’t currently working and don’t seem to have the experience to move into the career you want to, try out volunteering somewhere. Not only does it look good on a CV that you’re willing to out the hours in somewhere to gain experience, but it could also be a good social outlet. You never know what it could lead to or what kind of skills you may build in the meantime!

Network

Photo Of People Talking To Each Other

I know, networking feels super awkward to a lot of us, but I think it’s because we treat it as a means to an  end, rather than just socialising and checking in. Yes, of course we want something out of it, but it’s just as much about keeping in contact with your community as it is about gaining something from them.

LinkedIn is an essential asset, but don’t forget the value of in-person interaction and connections. Reach out to old college friends to see where they’ve ended up or a workmate that you lost touch with. You never know when someone may know of something that would suit you. But if they don’t know you’re looking, they can’t connect you.

Self-care

woman standing on dock

As tempting as it is to make the job hunt your entire life to move on to bigger and better things, it’s important to also take a little time to slow down. Regardless of your reasons for leaving or being let go in your last job, you won’t get down time like this again before heading into a new environment. Take the time to check in with yourself, see if any personal or emotional issues need to be taken care of before you leap into the next chapter of your life. Check your burnout levels, make time for the things you never got around to because of your last job and be sure that what you’re looking for is really what you want and not just something you think you should be doing.

Research your company

person writing on white paper

If you know there’s positions coming up in your dream company, it’s time to do your research! Find out who their recruiters are, what they look for in candidates, what the company values are. Search videos and articles from past employees for insider knowledge and see if you have any connections within the company to work with. It never hurts to try get ahead of the competition!

Put your work out there

Young lady typing on keyboard of laptop in living room

This is in the same vein as up-skilling, but if you’re going for a freelance writing jobs or creative jobs, then showcase your work, even if it’s for free. Start a blog, or feature as a guest contributor on someone else’s. Approach journals and websites and offer your services, even if it is unpaid for the time being. You never know what could turn into an opportunity. Plus, having a portfolio of published work is always an asset to be able to pull up for potential employers at interviews. However, do be selective about where you put your work up and be sure to research the site or journal to be sure you want your work associated with the publication and that it suits your personal brand.

Boundaries

Student sleeping on bed near laptop and cup of coffee

This is the same advice you have to apply to every part of your life; keep things separate. Don’t start scrolling through job postings before bed, or constantly check your application status for an update. Treat job hunting like a job in itself – have your work hours where you dedicate your time and attention to it and then put it to rest for the evening when you’ve given it its allotted time. You’ll drive yourself totally nuts trying to constantly be the first to apply or spot a posting – none of this gives you an advantage or ownership over the position – it generally doesn’t matter if you apply the first or last day of the deadline. If you have decided to take a day away from it, take that day.

Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.

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