According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8.7 percent of the U.S. workforce was unemployed as of April 2011. Unemployment can be a scary and stressful time, and it can be difficult to explain resume gaps to hiring managers. Luckily, there are fun and creative ways to be proactive during unemployment that can lead to great personal growth—and they’ll all look great on your resume.
Take a class
Skills in the areas of technology, social media, communications, leadership, coaching, budgeting, marketing, and global commerce are very valuable to employers today. So sign up for classes at your local college, online, or through job-training programs. “Fun” classes such as photography and creative writing may also come in handy in future jobs. You can also head back to school to earn a higher degree or a certificate in something that interests you.
Volunteering can help you make connections, gain confidence, feel good, and strengthen your resume—and there are so many ways to do it! Are you a writer? Volunteer to teach writing workshops at an after-school program. Do you enjoy playing the piano? Put on weekly mini-concerts at a local retirement center.
Learn a new language
Studying a new language demonstrates self-discipline and a desire to learn new things. Plus, knowing even the basics of a second language can be valuable in many jobs.
Enroll in an acting or improv workshop
These workshops can help you become a better public speaker, teach you to be more adaptive to your environment, and give you experience working with a diverse group of people. They can also provide you with some great stories to use to break the ice during interviews, industry conferences, etc.
Turn a pastime into profit
Get ideas and advice from the federal Small Business Administration on turning your hobby—such as gardening, cooking, or crafting—into a business. Even if your side business doesn’t become lucrative, your entrepreneurial initiative may impress hiring managers.
Start a blog that focuses on a hobby or your industry, or volunteer to write a column for a free local newspaper or website. These are great ways to promote yourself as an expert and establish a well-rounded online presence.
Now is the time to get involved with the things you never had time for—running school fundraisers, helping out at the Parent Teacher Association, organizing get-togethers for your child’s soccer team. These are all activities you can list on your resume and discuss in job interviews.
Sign up for a fitness class or work on becoming an instructor or a certified fitness trainer. At a time when many people are unhealthy, this will look great on your resume. Plus, getting in shape will make you stronger and happier and give you more energy for your job search.
Be a social butterfly
Networking and relationship-building are crucial to finding a job. So become involved with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You’ll collect a huge amount of contacts and build solid relationships that would be valuable to a prospective employer.