The job-hunting period is a ruddy nerve-wracking time. The multi-hour internet searches, the frantic re-writing of CVs to match job descriptions, the angst of sending the wrong cover letter to a company and the constant watching of your inbox… It’s enough to drive anybody to a stiff gin & tonic or seven.  

However! Put the gin down, for there are lots of ways that you can channel your focus and determination during this period into a superhero power for good. Use the force! (To make yourself more employable, not to kill baddies.)

stand-out-from-the-crowd
Stand out from the candidate crowd…

Take a short course

There are hundreds of courses aimed at people who want to increase their skills and add a little something extra to their CV. Would a little more knowledge of HTML/CSS give you the edge? Go for it. Need some coaching in leading and managing people to get that promotion? Crack on. Sites such as High Speed Training offer affordable online resources that only take a few hours to complete and will give you that little something extra. They’re also useful if you’re building up to starting your own business: with courses like book-keeping and food safety, there’ll be something that takes your fancy. There are also free online resources such as Codeacademy.com which are great for building up any programming knowledge you might desire. 

Do your reading

It’s always good to keep up to date with the goings-on in your industry regardless of whether you’re job-hunting or not, and now is definitely the perfect time. Fill up your RSS reader (whichever you’ve found since Google Reader left us *sob*) with relevant news feeds and blogs, grab yourself some industry magazines and immerse yourself in some new books. It’ll give you potential talking points with your future interviewers, and keeping up-to-date shows you’re enthusiastic about the field that you’re working in.

increase your employability

Contribute

On a similar note, if you are clued-up and raring to go, why not offer some written contributions to industry blogs or websites? If your stories are published, it’ll be another good thing to add to your CV and it could spark up some interesting conversations with like-minded people. And as the saying goes, it’s not what you know but who you know, and there’s no harm in making a few new friends that you have something in common with.

Add to your portfolio

If you work in a creative industry that requires a portfolio, take some time to work on some new pieces or polish some older pieces that you weren’t 100% happy with. If you’re a designer, illustrator or copywriter then take a look at the D&AD and YCN student briefs for inspiration, or come up with a new concept. Self-initiated work can be a good place to show off your skills, and can be some of the most challenging pieces. Have a look at your current portfolio to identify any missing areas or imbalances, and then rectify them. If you’re looking for a creative job, take a look at my previous article on finding jobs in the creative industries.

Get your party on

It’s a cliché, but now is a great time to network. Look up some relevant events and get your bum over there to drink some fizz and discuss yourself some serious stuff. Just as with contributing to sites, you could end up taking part in some interesting conversation and debate, make some new friends and contacts and perhaps get a better insight of some relevant companies. If you can attend any events hosted by companies that you’d like to work for, even better. 

There are of course a million ways to add to your CV depending on which industry you’re in – do you have any great tips for increasing your employability, industry-specific or otherwise?

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