There are few things in life more frustrating and monotonous than job hunting.
The longer it goes on, the more life becomes an endless grind of self-promotion that usually ends in disappointment. You’re supposed to be the best ‘you’ possible, but that’s much easier said than done. There are only so many times you can put a positive spin on your biggest faults.
Job searching doesn’t have to wear you down though. It can be a time to improve yourself. In fact, it should be a time for self-improvement — there’s no opportunity like a job search to sure up those skills and find fresh ones to make you stand out.
Here are some unexpected ways you can improve your skills at home to boost your chances of finding the right job for you.
Blogging and vlogging
You don’t have to become a YouTube celebrity or the next underground blog hit to improve your creative skills.
One of the hardest things about job hunting is finding ways to fill the time between applications. Hitting refresh on your email inbox won’t make those offers come in any faster and the waiting will eventually drive you crazy. You need to find ways to channel your energy into something positive and productive.
Blogging and creating video content are two of the best ways to use creative energy and make a positive impact on your CV.
Both require incredible commitment and creative flair, but also a number of practical skills. Bloggers are internet-savvy, with an understanding of how to make web-friendly content that engages online readers. Vloggers have an understanding of the online zeitgeist around video, learning modern editing techniques that appeal to younger audiences and might be just what a production studio is looking for.
Try writing or filming a vlog and see where it takes you. All the biggest stars started small (and terrible) so don’t be worried about quality just yet. This is about developing your skills. And if you’re not a writer and hate being on camera, give podcasting a try!
Watch better content
Just as making great content helps improve your skill set, consuming better content can help inspire you and refine your abilities.
The best advice any writer can get is “read as much as you can”. That same logic can be applied to any endeavour or skill, creative or not.
If you want to make it in the advertising world, watch and read about the best advertising you can find. Looking to become a video editor? Find the best tutorials on YouTube or Lynda and hone your talents. Trying to make it in a niche scientific industry? Ensure you’ve done your homework. You can never be too informed or up to date.
Advice and lessons always need to be put into practice, but the simple act of taking in quality information through professional presentation is a crucial step in improving your skills during career downtime.
Join clubs and volunteer
Some of us find it hard to pad out our CVs and make them look that little bit more impressive.
We all have hobbies and interests, but some of them don’t translate well onto a job application. A life of sports is always going to trump evenings spent playing video games.
To ensure you get the kind of outside-of-work experience you need to stand out against other candidates, it might be worth joining a club or volunteering.
Taking part in hobbies as part of an organised group validates what you do. It gives you an organisation to feature in your CV, people to vouch for you and a place to hone raw skills into a versatile, boast-worthy collection.
Try to become a more engaged member of your local community. It’ll teach you things you never knew about yourself or thought you’d enjoy. A brilliant way to pass the time and become a better person in reality, not just on paper.
Have a clear-out and sell your stuff
We’ve all got a lot of junk sitting in our attics, spare rooms and packed away under our beds (I’ll go to the charity shop this weekend I swear).
Rather than pushing back that big clear-out you’ve been planning until the holidays or convincing yourself you’re going to spring clean this year, why not use this precious time sitting at home waiting for application feedback to get it done?
But how exactly does this teach you new skills that’ll help you find a job? Well, it depends on how you approach it.
Thanks to the internet, selling unwanted possessions is easier than ever before. Selling your clothes, books and even childhood toys online can teach you vital lessons about ecommerce, webstore design and how postage costs work. It may not be the most glamorous out of work side project, but it’s how a lot of the biggest names in business today got started.
A little side hustle is a great way to distract yourself from the pressure of job searching and even earn some extra cash on the side. Not bad for an afternoon clear-out.
Get social (media)
Think spending the day on Twitter is a waste of time? Think again!
Okay, endlessly scrolling and watching Tik Tok dances might not be the best use of your time when you’re searching for a job, but being more active on social media can be surprisingly useful and teach you essential skills you never even realised you needed.
Becoming more familiar with social media, the intricacies of its communities and how advertising works on each platform is important for finding work in our modern, technology-driven landscape. A working knowledge of Facebook and its competitors can help you step into many advertising and creative roles across large corporations and tiny startups willing to give people a chance.
On top of developing modern skills, social media is a brilliant way to network. If you’re having trouble finding work through traditional job sites, consider reaching out to powerful people through platforms such as LinkedIn.
Do your reading and see how far you can push a platform. It’s a nerdy way to enjoy traditionally un-nerdy platforms.
Two coffees and three applications in, it can be hard to motivate yourself to work on new skills. However, once you get a job you’ll look back on this time as a missed opportunity. A point in your life where you could invest in something new. It might just be the crossroads point you’ve been waiting for.