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In between jobs? 6 productive ways to make the most of the transition

It is the best of times and the worst of times!

If you treat the period of job transition as a time for organizing and recharging, it can help you generate the momentum to propel you onto your career path.

If you treat it like a spring break, it could derail you and affect your career prospects for a long time.

Am I saying it's all work and no play when you are between jobs?

Have you observed how a grand master plays?Not every move makes sense in isolation. But at the end of the game you can clearly see how every move has led to the outcome.

Similarly, job transition is the time for engaging in actions that add maximum value to you as a person in the long run. This includes both work and play.

Job transition is a time of focused intention and deliberate action.

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Millennials are the job-hopping generation. Job transition is a trend rather than anomaly for Millennials.

The average tenure for Millennials is 2 years, and by the age of 32, they will have changed jobs at least 4 times.

According to the 2016 Gallup Poll, 21% of millennials say they've changed jobs within the past year.60% of millennials say they are open to a different job opportunity. 36% report that they will look for a job with a different organization in the next 12 months.

Job transition is an inevitable reality.

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If you learn to deal with it early on, you are positioned to improve your employ-ability and career longevity.

We have come up with 8 strategies that will make your time in-between jobs productive and even add value to your resume.

1. Plan and stick to a daily routine, even if you are not working

While dealing with the unpredictability of a job transition, routine can be your anchor.

When you don't have an office and a deadline, it is easy to slide into a 24-hour relaxation mode.But a daily routine can bring predictability and stability in these times of uncertainty.

Job transition

When you are changing jobs you will be dealing with loads of financial and logistical stressors. Having a daily routine can reduce the stress by putting the day to day goals on autopilot.

A University of Missouri study has revealed that having a daily routine is associated with feeling that your life is meaningful. Keeping a consistent daily schedule is also associated with better sleep.

A daily routine will ensure that you spend at least some time everyday on high value tasks.

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Routine might seem trivial on its own. But over time these small everyday actions compound together to create big momentum.

This momentum and forward-moving habit can be a lifesaver on the off days when willpower and passion are lost to you.

Keeping your off days scheduled will also help you in making the transition onto the structured workday when you start on the job.

Charles Duhigg 

Routine basically gives us the mental freedom to think about what's actually important. That way we don't have to think about all the mundane aspects of life. 

As part of our routine we have rituals - the daily actions that carry deeper meaning.

Author Laura Vanderkam studied that habits of high achievers and found that almost all have a morning ritual. In fact we love rituals so much that science suggests human behavior can be predicted 93% of the time.

These rituals help us start our day on the right track or even regroup after dealing with the unfamiliar.

To get the most out of your routine, schedule your day into manageable chunks with generous breaks and physical movement in between.

Why not take a leaf out of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s life and set different tasks for different days to spice up your routine?

2. Use social media networking to build your brand

Can you overstate the all encompassing influence of social media?

Even in the job market, your social media presence can exert considerable influence on the minds of employers.

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The recruiters national survey has revealed that 92% of companies are using social media for hiring.And 60% of employers will check out a candidate’s social profiles.

49% of employers who scan social media profiles said they have found content that has caused them not to hire the candidate.

If you are feeling, ‘I am better off without all that hassle’, stop and think again.

More than 2 in 5 employers say they are less likely to interview job candidates if they are unable to find information about that person online.

What exactly are the employers looking for?

The employers are not actively nitpicking the negatives from your profiles.

They are more interested in checking whether your personality fits in with the company culture.

Your social media account is your own personal brand.

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Invest this time in between jobs to refine your brand and create visibility.

Here are 5 pointers that will help you improve your social media presence.

  1. Interact - Don’t be just a spectator. Engage within the relevant online community by adding content, asking and answering questions, giving feedback and making introductions.
  2. Consistent information - Make sure that the professional information on your resume matches the info on your media profile like LinkedIn.
  3. Control the content - Tweak the privacy setting on Facebook to control who sees what and who can post on your wall.
  4. Be professional - Use a separate professional handle to share relevant content with proper hashtags and keywords.
  5. Dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s - Bad grammar is a pet peeve of the recruiters. Check your content closely.

Your social media profile is the opportunity for you to show the multiple facets of your personality in an environment that you can control.

Remember to highlight not just professional experience, but also other activities that have added to your character and skills.

3. Volunteer for personal and professional growth

Volunteering is an excellent opportunity for you to polish your skills and keep in touch with the industry even when you are not working.

LinkedIn’s Survey has revealed that, 41% of hiring managers consider volunteer experience equally valuable as paid work.

1 in 5 hiring managers in the U.S. agrees to having hired a candidate because of their volunteer work experience.

The Jobvite survey said that information about volunteering or donations to charity left 65% of recruiters walking away with a positive impression.

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Your job is no longer just a function of your qualifications and skills.

What you bring to the table as a person has consequences on your performance and productivity.

Volunteering is an excellent opportunity for you to showcase your ability in this area to the potential employers.

When you volunteer, you often engage in an activity that demands your professional skills and time in a diverse setting. Here you are exhibiting not only your adaptability and willingness to learn but also a larger commitment to the society.

Why not test drive your passion by volunteering?

Volunteering gives you the ideal setting for exploring your passion without making commitments which you can’t retract. It can give you concrete insight into the nitty-gritties of everyday work involved in your job. This will in turn help you make informed decisions about the direction of your career.

Volunteering is the ideal resume filler from a personal as well as professional perspective.

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Focus on activities that enrich and sharpen your skills and aid in your career advancement to get the most out of it.

Don’t forget to highlight the connection between the volunteer experience and the transferable skills that can add value to your job performance.

4. Evaluate your goals - where do you want to be eventually?

The period of job transition is a great time to evaluate your career aspirations in terms of your goals.

People who construct their goals in concrete terms are 50 percent more likely to feel confident that they will attain their goals and 32 percent more likely to feel in control of their lives.

Harvard Business University Study revealed that setting goals increases motivation and achievement.

When you are in between jobs, it is easy to focus on what has to happen in the immediate future.This shortsightedness trips us up into working in jobs that don’t actually fit in with our larger life goals.

Every job you take should contribute in terms of money, skills, contacts or experience to your life.

Every job should act as an accelerator that serves a specific purpose on your journey.

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This gap between jobs is an opportunity for you to step back and take an objective view at your career trajectory.

This time can also help you evaluate your personal and family goals and see how they will be accommodated in the career path you are pursuing. The clearer your goal is to you, the easier it is for you to take ownership of it and commit to it.

Passion and motivation need to be refreshed on a daily basis.

When you have the clarity about how this time off and the job you are seeking are contributing to your purpose, it becomes easier to stay on track.

Are your goals ‘growth goals’ or ‘avoidance goals’?

The ‘growth goals’ look forward to achieving something and are positive in nature.

Whereas the ‘avoidance goals’ are focused on avoiding a negative change and are restrictive in nature.

As we grow older, our need for safety often trumps our need for adventure and we start to set more and more avoidance goals.

This limits your ability to explore the opportunities on offer or take bold steps whenever occasion demands it.

In the light of this knowledge, evaluate your future plans.

Is your next job oriented towards your growth or will it just help you maintain status quo?

5. Stay relevant by learning new skills and updating old ones

We are living in the age of upgrades.

Your skills need to be constantly polished and up scaled if you wish to have any hope of keeping up with your peers.

What you know is something but what you are willing to learn is everything.

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Even organisations are looking for employees who are open to continuously work on their skills.

30 percent of executives said having a willingness to keep learning is the characteristic they consider most necessary for an employee to succeed.

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Find out the gap in skills and knowledge from where you are currently and the job you are aspiring for. Use the job transition period to update yourself and stay relevant in the competitive job market.

According to the Princeton based Educational Testing Service Report (ETS), Millennials show a lack of hard and soft skills at work.

The so called digital natives are actually lagging behind in “problem-solving in technology-rich environments!”

Successful training not only prompts skill-specific changes in the brain, but also more global changes that are consistent across many different types of skills.

Being up to date on the latest trends and developments in your industry, will not only help you stay relevant but also improve your value as an employee.

Want to learn, but don't know where to start?Here are some ideas

  1. Reading research papers, journals, books, and articles.
  2. Voluntary work, apprenticeship and internships.
  3. Research activities, social media interaction, blogging and writing.
  4. Online courses.
  5. Attending industry events, seminars and workshops.

Why not use this job transition period to demonstrate your commitment to personal development?

Show the potential employer that you are highly engaged and open to the future changes and challenges of your job.

6. Get some play, engage in a hobby or a passion project

Remember the trip you wanted to take since forever or the idea of the blog germinating in your mind?

This is the time to go ahead with it at full steam.

Claire Hall 

Just as exercise releases and increases energy in the body, creative energy also needs a form of expression. Whatever hobby we choose, it is an important aspect of our well being. It can enhance our ability to relax, rest our brain and recharge our spirit.

We often see hobbies as indulgences that distract us from job performance.

In reality hobbies are excellent avenues to pursue passion projects, network, learn transferable skills and encash new income sources.

San Francisco State University’s research into ‘Benefits of creative activity’ has revealed that, those who engaged in a creative outlet after hours are more likely to be better problem-solvers at work.

Dr Ausim Azizi of School of Medicine, Philadelphia, has found that, engaging in hobbies stimulates cells in the septal zone to produce feelings of pleasure, happiness and satisfaction.

Creative interests outside of our job help to achieve a better work-life integration which will in turn enthuse you at work.

Professionally also, companies are no longer looking only for workhorses who don't have a life outside office. They are looking for employees with talent, personality and creativity.60% of hiring managers think that hobbies and interests are an important part of the CV.

Your hobbies let you highlight your personal qualities (very different from qualifications and skill) which are not necessarily represented on your certificates.

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How to leverage your hobby to get the job you are aspiring for?

Hobbies can not only reflect your personality but also show qualities that are highly desirable in your job.

Here are 03 tips to help you streamline the hobbies on your CV

  1. Be relevant - Highlight how your hobby and job are connected. So, you may need to change the focus of your hobby information according to the job you are applying for.
  2. Be authentic - Be honest. Don't add information just to impress the employer. You should be ready to discuss and demonstrate your interests.
  3. Be specific - Give a unique identity to generic hobbies by mentioning the specifics. Don't you think, ‘wildlife photography’ sounds way more interesting than just ‘photography’?

Your hobbies and interests help you express your individuality to the potential employer.

Without that your CV is just a collection of professional information - one in a million.

Conclusion

Job transition is unavoidable.

But if you do it right, you can turn this break into an accelerator!

If you plan and execute it correctly, a job transition period has the potential to become a time of personal transformation.

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Keep the bigger picture - your life goal in perspective to motivate yourself during this period. Avoid mental rut and actively work on your skills to stay relevant.

Finding the job you love takes time and energy, it will also take you out of your comfort zone.Be open to new people and experiences.

Take your decisions from the mental space of positivity rather than fear.

When done correctly, job transition is not a gap on your resume, but increases your bargaining position

.Are you ready to turn this pause time into playtime?

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