Recent research shows that it takes anywhere from three to nine months for the average college graduate to land her first job. And, if you’ve ever actively searched for your coveted first position, you already know that those months can stretch out to feel like an absolute eternity.
Yes, job hunting can be a stressful and a discouraging test of patience. And it can be tempting to spend all of your spare time either compulsively refreshing email or whining to your friends and parents about how you just know you’ll be unemployed forever.
But, there are definitely more productive things you can do with the extra time you have on your hands. Not only will these activities take your mind off of your frustrating job hunt, but they can also help you actually score a position—or at least land an interview!
1. Polish Your Personal Brand
If you’re actively job hunting, you’ve likely already crossed a few of these things off of your list—at least you should have. Using extra time to clean up your resume, improve your LinkedIn profile, and add to your online portfolio is always recommended. But, this is especially true when you’re regularly submitting these items and documents for an employer’s review and consideration.
So dust the cobwebs off your resume and make sure it’s up to par. Take a couple of hours to totally revamp your LinkedIn profile—make sure to update your education section and professional summary. Or, add your most recent projects and accomplishments to your personal website. You’ll immediately look like a more polished, qualified candidate, which makes you that much more confident as you job search!
2. Participate in Professional Development
Remember when you were in school and all of the knowledge and skills you absorbed throughout the school year managed to completely vanish over summer break? So you’d have to spend a few weeks getting caught up to speed at the start of the next year. Right?
Don’t let this happen to you while you’re job hunting! Instead, stay on top of your own professional development by exploring the different opportunities available. For example, if you’ve always wanted to improve your coding skills, sign up for a course at your a technical college. Or, attend a seminar or lecture that covers a topic you’ve been meaning to learn more about.
Not only do these events present an opportunity to refine your skills, but they’re also an effective way to meet new people who could potentially help you in your job search!
You don’t need me to tell you that volunteering looks great on your resume—that much you already know. Plus, it’s obviously an amazing opportunity to do great things in your own community.
But, volunteering offers plenty of other great benefits for you as well. It allows you try out new things and hone new skills in a lower-pressure environment than a typical job. You can also expand your network by meeting new people who share your similar interests and passions. Plus, your expanded web of professional connections and increased skills can also give you a nice confidence boost in your job search—and that never hurts!
So, use some of your extra time to get out there and get involved in your community! It pays off, I promise.
As the old saying goes, “It’s not always what you know, but who you know.” So it comes as no surprise that a large network of professional contacts can definitely come in handy when you’re actively hunting for a job.
But, you’re not going to meet these people while binge-watching Netflix alone on your couch. So, make an effort to get out there and meet someone new. Many community organizations host networking events for local professionals, so check out when a few of those are happening in your area. Reach out to some of your past mentors and contacts to set up a coffee date. Or, contact a company that you really admire to set up an informational interview.
Whatever you do—it’s important to get your booty off the couch and get out into the world, because meeting new people will never hurt.
And by the way, don’t forget to polish your elevator pitch so that you’re prepared to be extra impressive at networking events!
5. Take Care of Yourself
Let’s face it—searching for a job can be stressful and anxiety inducing. And, we all know that high levels of stress can have a pretty big impact on not only our attitudes, but also on our health. You don’t want to be so wrapped up in the pressures of your job hunt that you let the rest of your healthy habits fall by the wayside.
So, although it may not be not directly related to landing the job of your dreams, it’s important that you place an emphasis on your personal health. Focus on drinking enough water each day and maintaining a nutritious, balanced diet. And, don’t forget to get out and be active as well! I promise, those job applications will still be there when you get back.
It took me almost six months to land my first job out of college. So believe me when I say that I know job hunting can be a somewhat stressful and disheartening experience (at times). And while it might be tempting to spend time complaining to your friends or cyber-stalking recruiters, there are much more productive (and beneficial!) uses of your time. Consider doing a few of these during your job hunt, and prepare for all of the positive results!