How to use your unemployment time to further your career

Adam Pacitti

Before the Great Recession, it was uncommon to have long stretches of unemployment time on your resume. Nowadays, it is more common to see resumes with some employment gaps. Some gaps last a few months, other gaps can last a year or more. How can you go about filling those gaps? Should you fill them at all? How can your unemployment period help your future career?

Unemployment is usually associated with doom and despair. People imagine that they will lose all their worldly possessions, their houses, their cars, etc. They worry that their bank accounts will empty and their credit cards will max out. Your unemployment period can actually work out differently. It can help you build yourself for the next job.

It’s not that you don’t have a job. Your job is to find a job. Creating a game plan during your unemployment period will make your unemployed days pass by quickly and make you feel better about yourself.

The first thing you should do as an unemployed person is to file for unemployment, if you have not already done so. Next, it is helpful to create a schedule of things you will do each day to find a new position. For example, you can contact your local government official for discounts and support programs. Your local state senators and city council representatives may be hosting local job fairs in your area. Mapping out 3 hours a day to online job searching and 2-3 hours a day to face-to-face networking and job searching can help you create something similar to a normal workday.

Update your profile to reflect your change of employment, leaving “Experienced [Your Field] Professional” in the headline. Work to meet new people through your connections online and don’t be afraid to make an introduction. You never know who you might meet online or at a networking event. Joining groups on LinkedIn is also a good way to meet new contacts.

Cutting back your spending and selling items you don’t need can help you during your unemployment because it will take away some of the doom and despair of not having enough to get by. If you have old instruments, gold coins, old books, and even some antique items that are not particularly important to you, consider selling them. Also, old college textbooks can sell for quite a sum of money. Over the course of a few years, I sold back most of my college textbooks on, making over $1400. You never know, selling things online might even help you start a business.

You may wish to start your own business or begin consulting. If your family or friend has a business, you might be able to work for them for a while, even if it’s only part time or for free. These are all great resume-builders.

Next, volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to build up your resume while you are unemployed. If you are an experienced professional, look for pro bono work at an organization you believe in. For example, if you have a degree in Marketing but do not have Marketing experience, you can accept a volunteer position with a non-profit organization. If you work to spread their cause and network for their organization,your experience could transfer over to your next job.

Contacting your local religious organization such as a church, mosque, temple, etc. is also a good way to find help during your unemployment period. Your local religious community might have outreach programs to help those in need of food, clothing, shelter, and jobs. They may also host networking events, career coaching, and counseling.

Probably the most important thing to remember during your unemployment period is that you are not alone. There are millions of unemployed people in the world. Finding support groups online can help you cope with your worries about not having a job.,, and are great websites to help you meet people who might also be struggling to find work. Stay strong and stay eager, and you will find a new job soon.

This guest post was courtesy of