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The Smart Animals – Un- Or Underemployed? Building Skills Through Self-Education

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jan 19, 2011 in Job Search, Self Improvement, Thinking Positive

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As pointed out many times on this blog, the employment market is a jungle where only the strongest survive. Just like living in a jungle, there will be times of plenty and subsequent times of material want. Smart animals anticipate these not-so-good times by saving and storing. Conversely, when the going gets tough, they anticipate better times by preparing adequately. If you find yourself currently un- or underemployed, consider the advantages of using your time wisely, so that when success finally comes, you’ll be prepared. Aside from spending your time looking for a new job, spend considerable time building a diversity of skills. Here are a few tips for doing just that.

1. Work for free.
I know this tip sounds a bit counter-intuitive. How would working for free enable you to acquire a new job? For one, it gives you something productive to do with your time, such that when you finally do land some interviews, you can explain to your potential employer what you’ve been doing during employment holes in your resume. Whether it’s designing a website for a non-profit organization or tutoring at-risk students after school, virtually any volunteer work will be personally fulfilling and will have the added bonus of adding weight to a thin resume.

2. Read more.
Even if you do have a job currently, anyone can benefit from learning by reading. If you find that you are lacking certain skills necessary for a job that you want in the future, read up on the industry as much as you can. Figure out what computer software you need to be familiar with or what industry news you need to be aware of, and set up a routine in which you educate yourself. Whether it’s reading a “For Dummies” book, or finding all the necessary information on the Internet, self-study will keep your skills and knowledge current.

3. Surround yourself with those who currently work your desired job.
If you know precisely the kind of job you’re looking for, be sure to connect with others in the industry, even if they won’t be able to help you get a job in the future. Just being among people with your desired career will give you lots of insight into what you’ll be doing on a daily basis, and they will, at the very least, be able to give you tips on how they got to where they are. Network through friends and family, or involve yourself with communities on the Internet to find a social group that can give you the inspiration and motivation you need to keep learning and keep hunting.

4. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new.
Maybe you’re applying for a certain type of job without even knowing why. You tell yourself that this is the career you envision, but if you haven’t tried several options, you really won’t know what it is that you actually like. Step out of your comfort zone and try applying for jobs that you wouldn’t have initially considered. Volunteer in a capacity that you previously thought you were unsuited for. You’d be surprised by how multidimensional your skill set actually is if you lay aside the mindset that you’re only good for a certain industry or job type.

The most important thing to remember while looking for a new job is that you can improve yourself and career prospects without actually earning money. Many are eager to jump into the job search and make that their 24/7 pursuit. Of course, finding a job requires lots of time, but make sure to utilize your remaining time to educate yourself, to grow, and to seek new experiences.

This guest post is contributed by Alisa Gilbert, who writes on the topics of bachelors degree. She welcomes your comments at alisagilbert599

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