Now that it has been established that I am job hunting, the next question that everyone asks is “what do you do with all your free time?”.
I will keep it simple and just list it off below.
Things that I do that keep me busy.
- Watching those TV shows and movies that I have been meaning to catch up on. Netflix, my all mighty savior.
- Doing all the hobbies, projects, or crafts. In my case, I paint or bake. Cookies, cakes, that type of baking.
- Reading novels, newspapers, etc., and actually having time to enjoy it. The last time I actually enjoyed reading was in middle school. All reading required afterward was academic and drained my soul. I was a good student so I actually read the textbook.
- Playing all the video games. Hey, I like my handheld systems.
This was pretty entertaining for the first two months of unemployment. It was summer vacation again like when I was in school. However, this became very boring very fast. Now, these things do not bring me any particular joy. They are only activities to pass the time.
But worry not, eventually I learned what to do with my spare time. There are things you can do even if you are unemployed. More specifically, you can do something to help your job applications and resume. Even more so, you now have something to say when you have your next job interview and the interviewer asks, “What have you been since your last position?”.
Please see my list below and maybe this will shine a light on what to do with your free time.
Actually useful things to do in your spare time and what I do now.
- Learning a new skill.
- There are many ways to pick up new skills. You can pretty much type in what you want to learn about in Google and thousands of sites are listed of which are ‘How to…’ videos or tutorials. Just make sure you have some proof that you actually learned it. For example, having a mobile/web application after learning a new programming language, or getting a completion certificate for attending a course.
- First, I suggest trying to pick up skills that would be beneficial for your desired career field. For example, if you are into software development, you can learn a new programming language and create a project. If you are in a field like IT that values certifications, you can start studying for one and then get it.
- More importantly, even if there are no skills that you can learn outside of having a job in your field, you can and should learn a new skill. My reasoning for this is that you will look more unique to a potential employer and you can bring something new to the table. You can prove that you are a go-getter who is not afraid to learn something new. Given, this is my own speculation. It is possible that your future interviewer does not value random skills that do not pertain to the job. However, at least you have something to talk about at your next interview.
- Volunteering or picking up some freelance work.
- It may be difficult to find your next salaried job, but you can definitely find ‘work’ to take up some of the hours of your week. If you can, I suggest finding small things that may relate to your next job.
- If there is a volunteering opportunity that mirrors what you want to do but is unpaid, you should do it. Not only do you look dedicated, you are helping out a good cause. And most importantly, you have something that you can list on your resume and talk about with an interviewer. I suggest looking for volunteer opportunities through https://www.volunteermatch.org/. There is something for everyone there. Even things that you can do remotely!
- You can also try finding freelance/contract work. This option usually works best for certain fields, like writing or graphic design, but depending on where you look, you can find project-based work. If you do find an opportunity and your work is selected, not only do you have more experience, but your resume will be a lot better than it used to be. Again, something to talk about at your next interview.
- Most likely, you probably just want to curl up in your shell and hide from the world. I get it. It is hard to talk with people when you do not have a job. However, a common saying of today’s job hunting process, “It is not what you know, it is who you know”. Hmm, that is messed up in its own way, but it works out well for a lot of people. Like the time I was passed over for an internship because another applicant had an internal reference at the company. I’m still salty.
- Networking events, your college alumni gatherings, *insert career field* type conferences/conventions, college guest speaker events, there is somewhere you can go to meet people. Google it. I bet there is something happening near you. If you do go somewhere, just act natural and be interested. You may meet someone or learn something that is a step closer to your next job.
- Last, but not least, you can talk with your family and friends. Given this option is probably the most uncomfortable and maybe no one that you know has a position open or has something related to your field, but you never know.
There you have it. My sort of guide for the past few months and for the next couple. Find something to do, so that you have something to talk about at your next interview. I keep reiterating this point because interviewers will ask the question, especially if you have been unemployed for a couple of months.
Moral of the story, be proactive even when you seem inactive. And more importantly, do something so you do not go crazy and depressed from being unemployed. Well, you will still probably go crazy, but at least you did something productive with your day.