HOW DO I KEEP MY CV FRESH IF I’M NOT WORKING?

Posted On 15th April 2011

Economic commentators seem roundly in agreement that 2011 will be a tough year. It is well documented that Government spending cuts will lead to public sector job losses. At the same time, how quickly the private sector will be able to step in and take up the slack is a matter for conjecture. Indeed, there is even talk that there will be an initial fall in private sector employment before it rises.

This will sadly leave some people out of employment and looking for work in an increasingly competitive market place. I will resist the opportunity to write about the importance of having good paperwork to support your application and turn my attention instead to how you always have something fresh and relevant to say on that paperwork.

What you choose to do will depend on your life circumstances and what resources you have to support you through this period. At the same time, you should also think carefully about what you want to get out of the period when you are not in employment and where you wish to go next. None of the ideas below are silver bullets to finding your new job, and I wouldn’t claim they are especially new, though I hope that what follows provides some food for thought.

I have decided not to include temping, contract-working or interim management here. These are all obvious routes if you need an income and provide an alternative career to permanent employment.

1.      Volunteer. Bear in mind volunteering is a commitment. Getting taken on as a volunteer is not a simple case of presenting yourself at the doors of a charity or organisation that you like. Most organisations need people with specific skills to do specific things. Seek out one which needs someone like you and reflects your values.

They will also want volunteers to commit for a period of time. So, before you commit, think how much time you can realistically give. If you can afford to take some time out, undertaking a full-time role over a period of some months may suit you well. This may provide you with a chance of trying out something new if your ultimate ambition is to change career. You may even be able to go overseas with an organisation such as VSO.

If you need to keep the job hunt going with the view to getting back into full-time employment as soon as possible, it may be best to look for something you can do in the evening or at weekends.

2.      Set something up. Although I’m talking here about doing something as you move back into the work place, there are still plenty of things you could consider without being a full-time entrepreneur. For example, do you have a hobby from which you could generate an income?  If you are skilled in a craft such as jewellery-making or iron-working, and you’re good enough and prolific enough, you may be able to sell your stuff online or at fairs.

Alternatively, what’s your contact book like?  You could set up a networking club for like-minded individuals and, if successful, this might not only generate an income for you as the organiser, it may also help you make the next step in your career as your personal network grows.

3.      Study. Any study you take on needs to have a clear objective. This may be as straightforward as retraining. But, depending on where you are in life, there may be a case for doing something just because you’ve always wanted to do it. You don’t have to justify your decision, just be able explain it clearly if the question comes up in an interview.

All of what has just been said rests on the presumption that you want to be employed again. To quote the late, great John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans,” and it could well be that anything you take up while you’re job hunting could take your life in an entirely new and unexpected direction. Whatever you choose, though, make sure you achieve something tangible, something that gives the time spent some purpose.

Heidi Nicholson

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