There’s not much positive you can take from a job search, especially one that goes on for an extended period of time. It’s often an endless roller coaster ride of emotions and highs and lows. More often than not, the lows linger if you let them. Your time is most often spent searching for and applying to multiple jobs per day, following up on jobs you’ve previously applied to and working any and all connections to help you find a job.
Sometimes it’s important for your mental health to close LinkedIn and Indeed and do something else productive: learn something. Take an hour or so a day to teach yourself new skills. Ideally, something related to the jobs you are applying to, but something that will stretch the boundaries of your knowledge, and possibly further your career. Here’s a good article to read about the importance learning while searching for a job: Skills to learn while in between jobs.
There are plenty of resources on the web and in books to read and learn about theory and how things should be done. However, I prefer to use tutorials, sites and applications that actually allow me to practice the skills I need to expand my knowledge, and hopefully increase my chances of standing out from other candidates.
I’ve spent the last three years developing the idea and helping to launch and manage my startup HireMatch.me. When founding a startup one wears many hats and picks up a ton of valuable skills along the way. Before HireMatch.me I had extensive experience in account, project and team management, but the online world is a different world than traditional off-line business. I had to learn quickly by listening intently, Googling everything, and asking questions as a last resort.
In the last couple of months since I left my startup I’ve been teaching myself more of the abilities that employers are looking for when they’re search for project, implementation or customer success managers. Although I’ll probably never be proficient in back-end coding I’ve been working my way through Code Academy, learning the basics of app development in Xcode 4 and designing a WordPress site for an app I’m working on, FōTacts. I’ve also found myself to be pretty handy at doing mockups in Balsamiq and designing user journeys on InVision.
Individually, my knowledge and skill level of these new skills probably won’t land me a job, but together they combine to make a robust knowledge base that make me a stronger candidate and will greatly benefit my next employer. Of course, these set of skills will not benefit everyone. My main point is that when I first started to interview for jobs I would have to tell possible employers that even though I lived in the online world for the last three years, I was not very technical. That’s becoming less true every day.
My advice is to identify your weakness and make them disappear. Learn something!