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10 activities to fill your time waiting for a new job

If you are currently playing the long game when it comes to waiting for a new job, how about doing one/some/all of the following 10 things to make sure when that opportunity does surface you are not only ready but you can stand out from the crowd!

1. Learn a language

Most of us wish we had learnt another language as a child, especially since it’s so much easier for children to pick languages than it is for adults. Don’t let that stop you now, if you’ve got time on your hands, stop the excuses and give it a go!

There are plenty of free apps out there, such as Duolingo and Babbel or if you need the extra push look for a tutor who will guide you through.

Having another language on your CV will give you the edge as companies are continuously moving, expanding to different parts of the world and becoming more global. English and Mandarin are a long way ahead in the league table of most spoken languages, but other widely spoken languages include (in order of popularity) Hindi, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, Russian and Portuguese. Or, according to The Economist, French is the way to go.

2. Online Learning

If you’ve got time on your hands, getting on some online courses and sharpening your skills will make you shine over candidates going for the same roles as you. Depending on the job role and what skills you already have, you may be looking to develop more general skills such as leadership and team management or you may need to find something more niche to give you more expertise in your specific field.

There are so many online courses out there, so do your research and find the right ones for you. For example, Linkedin Learning offers a free month trial and has plenty of online courses available for you to choose from.

A quick heads up, when you are looking for online courses, many will offer free courses but might have some sort of fee attached, just watch out for hidden payments!

3. Work on your CV 

Working on the admin side of recruitment, I see my fair share of CVs and it’s incredible how many people don’t put in the effort to sell themselves on their resume.

I like to think of a CV as the blurb at the back of a book, It’s what gives people an idea of what to be expecting from you and you want to get them hooked from the get-go! Take a look at our media hub where we have several blogs that can give you hints, tips and things to avoid, helping to give your CV the attention it deserves.

4. Investigate and research

Research and investigate what’s happening in your market. Which companies are doing well and thriving? Sign up for newsletters, talk to friends in your sector, read blogs and get in contact with one of our recruiters, who have all the inside information and can help you with finding the right job for you. By doing this you’ll keep your finger on the pulse.

5. Look back at your achievements

If this is the first time in a while you’ve had to get yourself back on the job-hunting horse and you may feel a bit lost. You might want to start with the basics mentioned here, like getting your CV ready, researching and investigating, or maybe you could start with the simple task of listing your achievements, both work and non-work related.

It can be as big as completing a huge project in your previous job, or as small as managing to put together that Ikea bookshelf on your own! Prompting that sense of achievement can give you that boost of confidence and remind you of your worth and what you are capable of.

6. Build up your social media presence

If you aren’t already on social media, get on it now. If you are, then make sure you are utilising it in your job hunt!

Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer opportunities for you to connect with the right people. Follow, like and share companies and people who you would like to work for and who inspire you. Generate posts relevant to your sector. Regular interactions on social media show that you are still in the game, waiting on the sidelines, ready to jump in.

7. Volunteer

Volunteering isn’t just good for your mental and physical health. It also looks great on your CV, a win-win for everyone. It indicates to potential employers that you are hardworking, have a social conscience and that you have chosen to build on your skills voluntarily.

With social issues becoming headlines almost daily, companies are more and more associating themselves with a cause. An example of this might be a company you’d like to work for is an advocate for climate change, so you might consider getting involved with a beach cleanup. NVCO is a good place to look up volunteering opportunities nationally.

At Harvey John, a regular date in the calendar is our big beach clean.

8. Keep a routine

Job hunting, especially in these uncertain times, can become obsessive and all-consuming. You can catch yourself in a vicious circle of continuous searching and CV submitting. Try and avoid doing this till the hours of the morning, it can leave you tired, unenthused, unfocused and won’t be great on your mental health. Instead, turn the job search into a working day, try waking up at the same time, have a lunch break and switch off in the afternoon.

Giving yourself a routine means you are more energised and can be focussed on applications and searching.

9. Take a break

Following on from routine is making sure you take a break. Everyone’s mental health has taken a hit the last couple of months and if you are job hunting it’ll be that extra bit (or a lot) stressful. So make time for seeing friends and family (social distancing), go for walks, have a film night with some junk food, or whatever you do to unwind.

Self-care is so important and will give your mind a refresh so you can come back to your search with a clear head and new energy to keep up your search.

10. Keep your head up 

Searching for a job can be draining both mentally and physically. It can feel never-ending and honestly, a bit hopeless. However, don’t let go of that door, Jack! (subtle Titanic reference) It’s not all doom and gloom, new avenues have opened up since 2020, so if you follow some of the previous points mentioned above, you’ll be prepared for when the job does come around. In the meantime, look after yourself, body, mind and soul, maybe think about downloading a mindfulness app like Headspace and schedule some zen time or even a workout to keep your head in a positive place.

I know all of these tasks seem pretty straightforward and self-explanatory, but when you do get stuck in the vortex of job searching, sometimes someone needs to throw you a life jacket and a rope to help you out, and I hope some or even just one of these points give you something to help you to keep you going.

Alex Louise is a member of the Operations team at Harvey John.

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