Ideas for what to do in between jobs

2013-09-08T00:00:00Z Ideas for what to do in between jobsBy Christine Bryant Times Correspondent
September 08, 2013 12:00 am  • 

If you're in between jobs, staying marketable and keeping your job skills fresh can be your biggest challenge.

There are steps you can take, however, to make yourself more attractive to potential employers - including taking on temporary jobs that not only give job seekers the opportunity to network, but build experience as well.

Here are some ways to find temporary employment opportunities and keep skills fresh when searching for new positions.

Work through temporary service

Working as a temporary employee is a great way to work in new and changing environments, said Cindy Tanis, marketing coordinator at Davis Staffing Inc. It's also a good way to meet new people in various positions.

"Many employers hire employees only through staffing services, which can create a wealth of employment opportunities," she said. "This is a good way for both the employee and the employer to try out the position before making a long-term commitment."

Temp agency assignments can include anything from office duties to manufacturing positions.


Having trouble finding even a temporary job? Try volunteering, said Shelly Robinson, director of career services at Purdue University Calumet.

"Volunteering, temp or contract work, and consulting are all ways to keep skills fresh and at a minimum, active," she said.

Volunteer at a location based on what your end goals are, Tanis said.

"Volunteer or find a part-time job in your new career field - thus building experience, confidence and contacts in your new field," she said.

Look for hot jobs

Davis Staffing, which serves Chicago Southland and Northwest Indiana, is currently seeing growth in three particular fields - food, automotive and manufacturing industries, Tanis said.

Other temporary jobs include work-from-home positions, such as freelance writing and completing surveys from legitimate marketing research companies. Some businesses also allow workers to operate out of their homes as customer service representatives.

Enjoy working with kids? Try babysitting or tutoring for some extra cash, and even camp counselor positions during the summer.

Take advantage of the season

Seasonal jobs are offered during particular times of the year, such as Christmas, so if you're out of work during these popular retail months, take advantage of it.

Like regular full-time jobs, these can be snatched up quickly, so Tanis recommends networking as soon as possible.

"The majority of jobs are snatched up before they make it to the Internet," she said. "If you sit back and wait for the right job to materialize on a job board, you'll miss the best opportunities."

The majority of jobs, she said, are found through networking.

"Reach out in person, by phone or by email, and let everyone in your personal and professional spheres know you're on the job hunt."

Brush up on skills

Looking for a job can be a full-time job in itself, Robinson said.

"My greatest advice is don't sit still too long," she said. "People tend to want to take a few weeks off and then find it difficult to get their momentum going again. I think filling the gaps, whatever they may be, is extremely important."

Take classes or obtain any certifications you may need when searching for jobs in your ideal field. This could give you an edge over any competition.

"I believe being committed to lifelong learning is critical to survive in today's market," Robinson said.

Find a mentor as well who can help you keep motivated.

"Changing careers is challenging, and you really need to have someone who can help motivate you and keep you focused on your goal if you get discouraged," Tanis said.

Try joining professional organizations in a new career field, and practice interviewing for when a potential employer calls.

"Nothing will close a door faster than a lackluster interview," Tanis said.

Start by learning everything about the organization you're interviewing with, and familiarize yourself with common interview questions. Know which skills you can best bring to that organization as well, Robinson said.

Adapt that resume for each job also, rather than sending out a standard resume.

"It's not the job of the agent or the employer to find the skills that they are looking for," Tanis said. "It's up to you to bring it to their attention."

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