How to Keep Your Career Current (Even During a Job Search)

maintainIt’s true: your job search is a full-time job.

But if you’re dedicating all of your waking hours to finding a job, you might be neglecting something just as important: maintaining your career.

Your career doesn’t have to go on hold just because you’re searching for a full-time position, however. The overriding principle is to stay busy, says Amy Carpenter, a vice president with Ticket City who frequently interviews candidates:

“Simply keeping busy with efforts somehow related to your area of expertise even if it’s not full-time,” Carpenter says, “shows great drive and determination.”

Here are some ways to ensure your career stays current, even during a full-time job search:

1. Take on Side Projects

“Do not wait out a full-time offer to get back in the game,” says Stephanie Harbour, president of search firm Mom Corps NYC.

She suggests taking on consulting gigs, contract jobs and small projects to avoid a resume gap between jobs – and reap other benefits.

“Even if a contract position does not turn permanent,” Harbour says, “it enables you to tap into a new network of professionals, keep your skills fresh and learn how a different company works, and add current referrals to your portfolio.”

Reach out to family, friends and professional contacts and let them know you’re interested in taking on projects. You also can search for freelance jobs on major internet job boards and sites like Elance, Mom Corps and the Freelancers Union.

2. Volunteer Your Professional Skills

We’re not talking about becoming a den mother or helping out at the school rummage sale – though those are worthy undertakings. There are plenty of organizations and nonprofits that need help from people with professional skills.

“If you’re in finance,” for example, “volunteer to assist on the finance committee for your church or a non-profit fundraiser,” Carpenter says.” And don’t sell yourself short. These positions are definitely worthy of being included on a professional resume.”

In addition to the good feelings that come along with helping out, volunteering provides many of the same benefits of taking on contract work: the potential for networking with new people, learning new skills and gathering new references.

Check out sites like SmartVolunteer and VolunteerMatch that make it easy to find opportunities.

3. Keep Up with Your Industry

As you search for a job, don’t lose touch with your industry.

“Job seekers can keep moving forward by maintaining their current network,” says Heather Huhman career expert and founder of PR and marketing firm Come Recommended. “Take time to reconnect to your current professional contacts and make new ones, as they can have first-hand knowledge of vacant positions and insider information about a company.”

Also, Huhman says, stay active in professional organizations: “They are great resources for keeping up with industry trends, training sessions and conferences.”

4. Expand your Skills

Consider attending workshops or taking classes.

“It’s an easy way to expand your skills and network at the same time,” Huhman says.

Evaluate your skill set, find things in which you want to improve and look for opportunities to earn tangible certifications that you can add to your resume.

 

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For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at CareerBliss!

 

 

 

 

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