You have been looking for a job for a while now since you left campus. You are tired of sending resumes and just about to give up. Other than dropping resumes you are beginning to wonder what to do with the time you now have in plenty. You don’t want to spend all of your time watching movies and series as if that is the only thing you can do and you definitely don’t want to spend your time feeling sorry for yourself.
If you’re worried that employers will turn you down for taking on unimpressive work during the recession or for the large employment gaps on your résumé, or lack of it if you are fresh out of campus, you needn’t panic. A survey released by the careers website CareerBuilder.com revealed that the vast majority of employers are actually sympathetic to such circumstances.
The vice president of human resources for the site, said at the time of the survey, more than 40% of unemployed job seekers had been out of work for six months or longer. “There’s a sense that such a long gap on a résumé negatively affects a candidate’s chances, but the survey shows that is not true,” she said. “That’s very positive news for this group of job seekers. If you fill the gaps with activities and experience that illustrate how you are still developing your skill sets, the overwhelming majority of employers will look past your unemployment and focus on what you can bring to their team.”
Eighty-five percent of those surveyed employed had reported that they were more understanding of employment gaps post-recession. Ninety-four percent said they wouldn’t have a lower opinion of a candidate who took on a position during the recession that was at a lower level than the one he or she had held previously.
But this doesn’t mean you can sit around and wait for a sympathetic employer to offer you work. “The worry is that employers may think job seekers are losing some of their skills because they haven’t been utilizing them,” Haefner said. “By volunteering, taking temporary work, or signing up for a class that develops your professional tool kit, you show employers that you’ve made the most of your time and will be ready on day one.”
Here, I recommended a some activities you can engage in to build, expand, and strengthen your skills during period of unemployment, in order to increase your marketability. But first, some things I have learnt:
- Develop a schedule. Do not just be content with sleeping for long hours, lazy-ing around, watching movies and waiting for the job to show up. Learn to be disciplined.
- Manage your finances. While it is easy to decide to wait until you are earning x figures to do this, you need to realize that the habits that you cultivate now, you are more than likely to carry with you even after you land your dream job.
- Have a goal and plan all your activities around it. It will help you to decide what to do and what not to do. Obviously, when you have time, many things come your way, people want you to volunteer, family wants you to help out in one way or another, friends want you to help plan this thing or that. Basically, there is a lot that you could be doing, but this is not to say that you should be doing it.
- Consider starting a business and fail. Or not. 🙂 While it is not every one who is entrepreneurial or has the acumen to see a start-up to the end, there is so much that you could learn from attempting and failing than never having done that at all.
You may not be able to spend every waking moment sending Cv’s, i’m not even sure it is healthy, but, sending as many resumes as possible is something I would advice. Looking for a job is now your job. Treat it as such!
Here are a few things that you can do when you are not sending resumes:
- Start a blog
There are many platforms online that can allow you to start a blog for free. You can utilize these to write about something that you are interested in. It does not even need to be a writing blog, you can document anything from your love for photography to your work as a volunteer, have fun while at it, and build a portfolio. Of course, you have to consider how this lines up with your goal.
Last year I had the privilege of working with an NGO that sought to reduce sexual exploitation of children in Machakos County. I discovered that I am passionate about community service which I suppose I could not have if I had just been binge watching. Additionally, I got to network. As a result of the work I did there, I got to make friends with people I would never have otherwise met. I learnt a few things too ranging from ‘advocacy’ to ‘how to conduct monitoring and evaluation’.
3. Read books
While you may not be able to write this on your resume, the knowledge you gather is more than likely to reflect and support your narrative. I interact with a couple of people who are unable to express themselves adequately in say English. Guess what, reading can help with that too! Travel the world in the perspective of authors, experience their character’s lives, live recklessly through them, learn, grow.
4. Learn a new language
I am now learning French since the year began. It is proving to be quite an experience. Last year, I perfected my German. Guess what, you can learn too! Many people excuse learning a language because of their age, the whole neuro-plasticity decreasing with age argument, which is valid but hey, some old dogs have been known to learn new tricks. According to an article published by the Guardian , learning a new language may not always be easy for adults, but there is research to suggest that doing so is beneficial for brain health. It will look good on your Cv too!
5. Learn to code
Remember that goal we talked about earlier? If it has something to do with IT or the internet, learning to code is never a bad idea. There are numerous material online that you can use ranging from YouTube videos to online schools. Some I have found helpful are such as Quentin Watt YouTube Tutorials and the W3Schools website.
6. Learn to DIY
While this may not be for everybody, it is a worthwhile endeavor. You don’t even have to be good at it! Just try, and you don’t know when next your friend is going to be wedding and needing your expertise. This and my next point are constructive ways to deflate after working so hard at finding work.
7. Visit places (Tembea Kenya)
There are places that you can work around with a cheap budget. Visit the Bomas of Kenya- watch those guys dance their hearts out and get back in touch with your culture; go to the Ngong hills with your friends, shindwa kutembea the seven hills, bond, encourage one another; go to Karura forest, enjoy the serenity of the place; go to the Nairobi Arboretum, visit a museum and if worse comes to worst, enda ukalale pale Uhuru park siku moja.
Now I just couldn’t resist putting this in the list, although it is not really something you can tick off and move to the next level. It is hope that will enable you to do these things, it is hope that will allow you to keep sending those resumes and fuel your zeal for life so, hope!