What Gap? 6 Creative And Productive Ways To Fill Time Between Jobs

unemployment advice job searchThis article originally appeared on Schools.com

By Janis Beem

What can you do in seven months? If you're unemployed, the way you answer that question can impact where you find your next job. David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff, reported in 2010 to US News & World Report that over 6.5 million people in the U.S. had not worked for 27 weeks or more -- that's nearly seven months.

When you're looking at an employment gap of this time, your days threaten to stretch into endless weeks of daytime television and walks around the neighborhood. Take a few of the following tips to heart, however, and you'll be more likely to come out of that gap with a stronger resume and perhaps even a new direction in your career.

Top 6 tips for surviving any employment gap

Take a look at the best ways to not only survive an employment gap, but to thrive during your time away from work while gaining points to negotiate your salary when you land that new job.

  • Get creative: Dr. Deanna Cole, PsyD, MBA, a licensed psychologist who has had her own employment gaps, suggests creativity. "Many unpaid activities have a positive impact on your professional endeavors and make you a more valuable employee," she says. That summer you flipped burgers for church choir dinners? Think of your experience more in terms of meal planning, crowd control and culinary excellence, for example.

  • Intern: You might be going to work for free as an intern, but you're getting your foot in the door. Internships are one of the smartest ways to land entry level jobs, and they can help you learn new skills, check out companies from the inside and build your resume.

  • Self-develop: If you've been meaning to learn JavaScript or get that CPR certification, now's the time. Drew Stevens, Ph.D. and president of Stevens Consulting Group, stresses the importance of self-development. "As organizations rise from the recession, there will be less desire to pay for educating employees," he points out. Think about course or degree work that can help your chances at snagging that great job.

  • Serve: Take a management role in your community by serving on a board or committee. Whether the service takes place in a religious function, an arts organization or a neighborhood watch, you can feel good about the way you boost your management experience. Dr. Stevens notes that you need to properly frame your service work on your resume. "Service is about aiding others and offering assistance and collaboration when needed," he says. Focus on the skills you learned, not just what you did.

  • Volunteer: This suggestion goes beyond the boardroom. When you volunteer in your community, you also help yourself with potential job skills. "I volunteered at a taekwondo dojang owned and operated by a licensed psychologist," Dr. Cole remembers. "This was helpful to me as it provided both a mentorship relationship with the psychologist/business owner and offered an opportunity to become integrated in the local community." Plus, community service is one of the top characteristics hiring managers seek.

  • Network: You're already using Facebook to snoop your high school crush's new baby; now, use it as a tool to get in touch with other professionals. "The best way to find work is to seek referrals and third party endorsements," Dr. Stevens says. "If you want work, think like a sales professional and hunt for it." That means checking out professional organizations on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Make yourself known -- just take down those party pictures from Vegas, first.

When in doubt, cut the timeline out

If you're stressed about employment gaps, consider reorganizing your resume. Dr. Cole points out that, if you have a lot of gaps in your job history, you don't need to organize your resume by year. "Group your experiences in a way that easily conveys your experience without making gaps so obvious," she says. "For example, a psychologist might cluster experience into clinical experience and teaching experience."

Even though you may now find yourself with lots of free time, spend it wisely. Remember, it's important that job seekers not play down the work they've done for free - and more times than not, those seven months will fly by.

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Some of the suggestions in this story would be a prolbem for receving your unemployment benefits,,,,you must be available for work, and looking for work. If you setting up a small self run business while you are on unemployment this would cause your benefits to end.

January 25 2012 at 8:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I got layed off back in May and it took me about One and a half months to find another job. I can say beyond a doubt the number one way to stay busy while unemployed is...... LOOK FOR A JOB! Oh and PS Be able to pass a drug test helps too.

January 25 2012 at 4:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Having been a small business owner for over 25 years that had a business crash along with the real estate market, we relocated our family to an area with lower unemployment. It took selling all we had. I took a job last summer as a live in caring for an elderly lady, and used that money to buy me a domain name, and launch a new home service business online. It's slow getting established in an industry with alot of competition, but... working everyday, doing email blasts to homeowners and brokers, etc., will eventually get me there! Giving up is not an option, as we didn't qualify for unemployment! Which totally makes the case for no unemployment extensions!

January 25 2012 at 4:23 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Anyone think that maybe when you're unemployed you might want to spend your time looking for a job? All this other stuff is great, but the most important thing is finding another job. Don't be to proud to take a job that starts at less than you were making. If you're good, you'll get raises and be promoted.

January 25 2012 at 4:14 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

You gotta be kidding. Most people that are unemployed work harder trying to find a job than they have to work when they get a job. It is difficult going to interviews, sending out resumes and driving all over the place when you don't have the cash to put out for these added expenses. If I had ANY free time when I was unemployed, I ALWAYS had plenty of other stuff to do. This is a DUMB subject.

January 25 2012 at 2:36 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

clean rooms,drawers,cubbards get rid of the clutter. visit grandparents,inlaws,readbooks.generaly keep busy as possible.this will make you feel better,and improve your home relationships and selfesteem.

January 25 2012 at 1:31 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

or sit around and wait for the next unemployment check.

January 25 2012 at 12:34 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to beverlyamy1's comment


January 25 2012 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dal's comment

DAL..What's so funny??? No only you need to keep your job but also get a degree or a certification. Educate yourself like people do!

January 25 2012 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

Seriously? Have you ever been unemployed or do you just make fun of those who've lost their jobs in this economy? It's mind-boggling when people think that unemployment benefits are some type of charity or handout. You can only collect if you QUALIFY by having worked at a job where the proper withholding taxes (YOUR money) were collected and sent to the government.

It's amazing how unattractive ignorance is.

January 25 2012 at 7:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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