If you aren’t doing work, you aren’t employable. You must always prevent yourself from becoming a passive candidate, or one that is unemployed and either in search for an opportunity or doing nothing at all. Companies have a bias against passive candidates and hiring managers overlook resumes that have “gaps”, where you aren’t actively doing work. The reason why this is so important in today’s employment landscape is that you are competing with so many other candidates that have a much higher priority than you. Companies would rather hire:
- Passive candidates (stealing talent from other companies)
- Boomerang employees (employees that left and want to come back)
- Internal candidates (employees who are qualified for other positions at the same company)
- Employee referrals (employees who refer others in their network, sometimes for bonuses)
- Customers (employees at other companies that they are currently doing business with)
In order to prevent them passing over you, you need to focus on leveraging your skills to complete projects. If you want to become more valuable to employers and increase your chance at getting a full-time high paying job, building a business, or landing more clients, then you should could get an internship, volunteer, do project-based freelance work or apprentice under an expert in your field. Each of these translates into new experience, new connections and the perception that you’re valuable in the marketplace. If you weren’t valuable, then you wouldn’t have been hired in the first place and that’s the perception it creates to other employers.
It’s easier now than ever before to stay employed thanks to the advent of new technologies that have enabled everyone, regardless of age to find work even on their mobile phone. To get an internship, I recommend that you apply to them at college career fairs, by asking for referrals from your college advisor and professors and by applying online in your schools internship portal. Volunteer experience can be found through your college, online and through your friends who might already be doing it. Freelance work can either be short or long term and can help you sustain yourself as you search for a full-time job or start a business. Sites like Freelanship.com and UpWork.com can be good starting points for promoting your skills and finding work that can be part of your resume and portfolio moving forward. Apprenticeships under experts in your field can be found by searching in Google and Amazon for consultants, authors and entrepreneurs who are doing what you want to do. Volunteer your time under them in order to learn the tools of the trade, collect an endorsement after several months or work and ask them to refer you to a full-time job if that’s the direction you want to head in.
After you’ve completed an internship, volunteer project, freelance gig or apprenticeship, you should incorporate the experience into your resume, your LinkedIn profile and your website. In addition, I highly recommend that you ask for either a video or written testimonial that you can use to prove that you did a great job. You can leverage this experience and these endorsements in order to get jobs now or in the future. You should also create a “case study” out of the project to show the projects you were working on and the results you achieved. By always staying employed, you’re always staying valuable and will set yourself up for success long term.