Perhaps you quit or were downsized out of a job. Maybe your firm was bought out. Your contract may have ended and you don’t have a new one yet. You may have received a golden (or not so golden) handshake. There are many reasons you may find yourself between jobs or contracts.
Today private and public employers seek alternatives to full time employees. It is not hard to understand this trend. We live in a fast changing world. Temporary and contract workers give employers more flexibility to adjust to fluctuating human resources needs. It frees them from the considerable long term responsibility of employing permanent full time employees.
Depending on your circumstances, you may welcome some time off. Or not. In either case, it’s a good idea to make the best use of your time between jobs or contracts. Here are 10 things you can do to boost your career during your hiatus.
1. Make A Habit of Self Love
“If we really love ourselves, everything in our lives works”. (Louise Hay)
Some of you may be thinking, “What’s with this airy fairy stuff?” I have no hesitation about putting self love at the top of the list. Your relationship with yourself is the only guaranteed 24/7 lifelong relationship. Your self love is your most crucial asset. The strength of our self love largely determines our satisfaction in life. We can never love ourselves too much. Don’t sacrifice it for anyone or anything. Associate with those who increase your self love and shun those who reduce it.
We must not let our self love ride on the vagaries of the job market, or any other market for that matter. You need to know, deep inside, that you are a great guy or gal whether rich or poor, employed or unemployed, thriving or struggling…
Self help guru Louise Hay advises us to to tell yourself how much you love you at least 300 to 400 times daily. Make it your mantra, she urges. Hay notes she has personally seen hundreds of people transform their lives with this simple but powerful habit.
Hay’s advice may sound extreme and impractical. It isn’t. Think of the thousands of negative thoughts we typical;ly think each day, without being aware of them. I suggest you dedicate 10 minutes in the morning, upon awaking, and 10 minutes before bed, to telling yourself you love or appreciate yourself. With passion!
Make a habit of it; just as many people make a habit of exercising regularly. There are few better ways to use your time and building your self love. Look for other ways to express your self love too. Ask yourself this simple but powerful question: How would I act if I loved myself 10% more? What about 20% more?
2. Refocus On Your Big Vision
Have you lost sight of your Big Vision in your career? Has it changed? Your hiatus is an excellent opportunity to refocus on it. Ask yourself questions like:
What is your Big Vision?
Are you passionate about it? If not, what vision DOES make you passionate?
Where do you want to be in five years?
What is distracting you?
How can you eliminate or reduce distractions?
Build the habit of refocusing on your Big Vision regularly.
3. Update Your Resume or Promotional Material
Your resume or promotional material can never be too strong. Update it regularly.
Add new experiences, accomplishments, skills, references and qualifications.
Make it look more contemporary, appealing and stand out positively from those of your competitors.
Proofread it repeatedly. Have others, who know you, proofread it. They may catch errors and omissions you miss.
Have it checked by one or more authorities in your field. They may have helpful suggestions to offer you.
4. Get A Mentor. See A Good Headhunter. Or both
It is hard to overstate the value of a good mentor. When people achieve quickly, in almost any field, it is largely due to mentoring from someone more experiences. Approach people in your field, that you admire, and respectfully ask them to by your mentor. Offer them something valuable in return. Make it win/win for both of you.
A good headhunter, specializing in your field, can also offer you much insight into career opportunities. You can only benefit from the expertise of such people.
5. Audit Your References
Your references may have said wonderful things about you two years ago. That doesn’t mean they are still saying such things. They may have lost their enthusiasm they once had when recommending you. You need to keep on top of your references.
Maintain mutually beneficial relationships with your references. Every relationship, business and personal, must be give and take to thrive. Help them out with referrals which benefit them too.
I suggest you have a friend, who owns their own business (and who is not known by your references) call them; pose as a potential employer or client, and ask their opinion of you. They can report to you what was said.
You may tactfully ask your references to be a little more enthusiastic in recommending you. If your references are lukewarm, you’d be wise to replace them with references who sing your praises more highly.
6. Send Surveys to Former Employers Or Clients
There are many good reasons to send surveys to former employers or clients, provided you parted on good terms. It shows you truly care about delivering value. It could help you obtain more work from past employers or clients and/or referrals to new ones. It also helps you offer services which better match your prospective employers’ and clients’ needs.
Make the survey brief and to the point. Ask for input as to how you can better help them. You could also ask them if they know of other firms or departments which could benefit from your services. Thank everyone who responds to your survey.
7. Get Your Finances In Order
Now is a good time for a complete financial check up. Seek the help of a competent professional in this area.
Do you have adequate savings to cover emergencies?
Do Your investments meet your life goals? Is their risk level appropriate for your personality and present life situation? For instance, if you are planning to retire, you may want to reduce your financial risk and maximize security.
Are you on track to meet your financial goals?
Find and plug your financial leaks. Are you paying unnecessary interest and/or other expenses?
8. Break Free From What Drags You Down
Deep inside you likely know certain thoughts and people drag you down. They make you feel less capable, less powerful, less alive. They can drag down everything from your health to your career. You need to break free from them. This may not be easy. Aim to minimize your time invested in negative thoughts and people. Maximize your time with positive influences.
One suggestion many find helpful is to use positive procrastination to weaken unwanted habits. Put off indulging in what drags you down. Invest time in people and thoughts which build you up instead.
The best time to build your network is before you need it. As the proverb goes: “Drill your well before you are thirsty”. Hopefully, you have been building up your network of contacts. If not; better late than never.
Make time to attend relevant networking events, in your area. Build the habit of networking everywhere. You never know who you might meet and how much you may be able to help each other.
The overall key to good networking is; be genuine. Here are three more tips:
* Join groups you are keenly interested in and become active in them. Don’t join groups simpl;y for the sake of meeting people.
* Be genuinely interested in the people you meet. Talk about what interests them.
* It is not about handing out lots of business cards. Its about collecting lots of business cards. You need to be able to contact people you meet. Rather than waiting to hear from them.
By volunteering, you help others and you can also benefit greatly from the experience. Choose to volunteer where you can develop and hone desired skills and where you can forge valuable connections.