Job seekers want to appear current in the job market, but many feel joblessness strips away their professional image. The average duration of unemployment is much longer than a few years ago, though it will eventually turn around. Until it does, it is essential to look up-to-date and relevant, ready for the next job opportunity.
So how do you stay relevant?

1. Monitor the attitude you project

Your attitude shows. Ensure it is the one you want to demonstrate. Dress for work every day. Project a polished image. Show confidence even if you have to pretend. Breathe deep and pull your shoulders back.

Own your strengths. Change the words, “I used to manage company mergers,” to “I specialize in innovative company growth.” Modify your thoughts. If you berate yourself for being out of work, start to think positively. “I have amazing qualities to offer. I have innovative ideas and always keep my eye on profit margins.” Post your qualities on the bathroom mirror to remind yourself what you bring to employers.

With today’s unemployment rate, jobless is shameless. Let people know where you stand. “My job fell with the economy, and I’m available to begin something new.” Make a point to create a visibly positive attitude.

2. Volunteer

When you are unemployed, volunteer. The only difference between a paid position and a volunteer position is the money. Yes, money is important, but that volunteer position keeps your resume full and gives you an opportunity to offer your assets to a non-profit organization. Volunteering may also lead to a job.

3. Connect with your industry

Local and online organizations, such as those on Meetup, keep you updated with industry changes. Professional online networks, such as LinkedIn, allow you to create a complete job-targeted profile for future employers. Industry and networking groups also find value there.

If your industry or community doesn’t have a group, start one.

Join a Rotary group, attend networking meetings and create dynamic connections by offering ideas while you exchange business cards.

4. Be creative

Some people wait for others to take the lead, so you might start your own networking group. Or set up a weekly support group for unemployed professionals. A mastermind-type group can hold each other accountable for job search and other career-building activities.

Connect with an industry blog. Comment with frequency and knowledge, adding value to the blogger and the readers, and creating visibility for you. Social media can help you bring your talents to the world.

Create a business card which stands out from the crowd. Be creative yet professional. Order inexpensive yet quality cards online from a place like Vistaprint (pay a few dollars so their logo is not on the back).

5. Focus on the pleasure hours of your life

Job search is eight hours or so a day. What could you do in your off hours? Perhaps you could try a yoga class, see a daytime movie or meet friends for coffee. Set yourself a goal: “After five cover letters and resumes are hand-delivered, I will meet Frank for lunch.” Stay focused when you need to, and learn to enjoy the other part of your life.

Sometimes things happen when you least expect it. When you follow the ideas above, your next conversation may be with a local corporate executive, who could invite you to your next job interview. This is when your relevance shows.

Leigh Harris has been a career and personal development coach for 15 years. She finds satisfaction helping clients create relevance outside their careers and within. Visit her website
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  • Inspirational Thoughts by Stephen Posted February 25, 2011 6:52 am

    I think many of us job seekers fail to realize just how important your #1 tip is. The way we frame our attitudes and thoughts has a direct impact on how we are going to interact with our world. If we frame our attitudes in a defeated manner then perspective employers are going to get the opinion that we are defeated and depressed.

    I don't know many employers who put this characteristic into their desired skills 🙂

  • Leigh Harris Posted February 25, 2011 7:08 am

    Good point Stephen. I have even seen otherwise-qualified people passed over for a promotion because of a poor attitude, though the decision makers may not have worded it this way.

    And I don't know employers who add this to their desired skills either. I would think it is because attitude is hard to measure. Yet it is one of the most obvious skills we display during job search, and on the job.

    Thanks for your inspiring comment.

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