4 Strategic Ways to Turn Unemployment Into a Better Resume

resumeWhen employees lose their jobs, they start updating their resumes, networking, and searching job boards for job postings. What most are focused on, however, are tactical ways of landing the next job.

They take their own skill set, location, and existing job openings as a given. They forget that even a perfectly written resume will not help land a job if there are not many openings in their city or industry, or if they are not qualified for the jobs available. The resulting lack of success in job hunting just wastes precious time, is demoralizing, and increases the "employment gap."

What you as newly unemployed should think about is how to change the odds of landing a job in your favor by using your time strategically. You now have the full day at your disposal, since you don't go to work anymore. Consider the following four strategies:

1. Get a degree or certification.

You might have acquired skills in a particular area of expertise (e.g., human resources or accounting), though never had a formal education in it. Now is the time to get certified -- you will bridge the recession and reenter the job market with better skills certified by a third party. You might never have finished your college education. Now could be the right time to complete the missing degree. If you feel that your profession has no long-term future, look to the Labor Department Occupational Outlook Handbook to find out what jobs will be hot in the coming years, then get a jump on them through university, vocational and for-profit educational programs. Look for tax credits to help with the cost.

2. Learn a new language.

Having language skills is becoming more valuable every day. If you live in the South, Spanish could be your best choice, in the Northeast, maybe French, to do business in Quebec. As the U.S. tries to increase its exports worldwide, speaking a foreign language will be a great asset in almost every industry. There is a reason why more and more parents are teaching their kids Mandarin. Get started by trying an immersion program offered by a local college, free classes at your local library, or online courses. If you are young or mobile, consider using your language skills to work in a foreign country that's booming.

3. Perform charity work.

Get involved, be active, and feel good about it. If you ever dreamed about working for a non-profit, this might be your opportunity to explore. In any case, you will make new contacts that could be helpful in landing a job. You also signal to your future employer that you kept active during your job search.

4. Check out a different city to potentially work and live.

The U.S. is a large country with a diverse base of industries and economic opportunities. While Detroit, Mich., might be hurting, Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C., are booming. Don't be stuck in your city. Explore a new location with better job prospects in your industry. If your car plant shut down in Michigan, what about giving Alabama a chance? Don't find anything appealing in the U.S.? Explore a different country. For hundreds of years, immigrants came to the U.S. Maybe it's time for you to consider spending a while in one of the thriving emerging countries. Skilled English-speaking employees are in demand worldwide.

Whatever you decide to do, don't just sit at home and apply for jobs when the odds are not in your favor. Use your time wisely by investing in your skills, or explore different places with better economic prospects. Your next hiring manager will appreciate you for being proactive.

If you would like to learn more about the strategic use of your time after job loss, please visit www.thegiftofjobloss.com.

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