Laid-off from a Job? 3 Proactive Ways to NOT Have a Big Gap on Your Resume

There is No Need to Feel the Stigma of Being Unemployed If Action is Taken Right After a Job Loss

These resume filler options are attainable and realistic. They should not become all-consuming to both your job search and your personal life.

In this Great Recession, ahem… now called the “New American Economy”, being laid-off at some point over the past 6 years is not unusual. Especially if you are recently laid-off, find meaningful ways to not have a glaring, deep black hole of unemployment time on your resume.

Believe it or not, employers and recruiters are well aware that the economy is still bad. They are more sympathetic to job seekers “if” they can demonstrate they use their time well to improve their professional qualifications.

So… what can you do from home, on your own time, at your own pace, and can ramp up or down quickly while seeking full-time work AND balancing a personal or family life? The answer: Start filling your resume now with new job skills that matter.

1. Get an Accredited Professional Certificate Online

Depending on your education level, you may need to take more courses to finally get a BA or BS Degree. Or, perhaps you always wanted to get a Master’s or Doctoral Degree. This is a super idea “if” you have years of time and money. What’s less of a time commitment and costs significantly less would be a professional certificate online that relates to the career you want to stay in or transition into. In the U.S. News & World Report – 2014 Best Colleges Rankings, you can use a simple search tool to find online accredited certificate programs.

To illustrate the point as to why accredited certificate programs can help your job search: If 200 people are applying for a project manager position, and a project management certification from the PMI Institute is a preferred company criterion, then chances are only those who have this certificate will be selected for interviews, especially in a sluggish economy.

2. Find Freelance / Contract / Consulting Work

The reality check, you could be out of fulltime work for a few months or a few years. Freelance, contract, or consulting projects are perfect for filling gaps in employment history. Plus, these short-term assignments keep you highly marketable and attractive to an employer. Sometimes, there may even be a job offer at the end of the project.

To find freelance / contract work: Word-of-mouth goes a long way with family, friends, and professional connections. You only need that first short-term assignment to get started. From there, word naturally gets out tenfold. I did freelance and consulting work when I was part of a mass layoff during the Early 2000s recession. Learning about new businesses, and contributing to them at an accelerated pace, can be exciting.

Another great way to find freelance / contract assignments: Use niche websites with freelance job listings like Elance or Working Mother. As for finding consulting work in many top industries, Gerson Lehrman Group offers a super way to make money for your expertise.

3. Start Your Own Business

Chances are, if you are doing freelance / contract / consulting work, then this can be a natural transition for becoming a business services provider and owner. Who knows, if you interview for a fulltime corporate job 6 months from now, you may find that you’d rather keep working for yourself instead.

Another way to find a new career: Turn a hobby, interest, or passion into a side business that can evolve to fulltime self-employment. For example, if you love photography and are talented, then become a freelance photographer. Love antiquing? Become an Appraiser. Are you Mr. Fix-it? Get a contractor’s license, and put an ad out in your local newspaper to see what happens.

Search from within, and take the next steps to open up job opportunities for yourself. Then, you don’t have to worry about ever having a big employment gap on your resume.

Article and photo are by Alicia Sakal. Originally written for Yahoo! 

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