How to Fill Gaps Between Jobs Productively

How to Fill Gaps Between Jobs Productively
by Michael Pollock

I have been asked how professionals who were once in the thick of things should fill in the time between jobs so that employers will still take them seriously.

Just because you don’t have an office to go to every day doesn’t mean that you aren’t in the business. In fact you have more time than you used to have to make yourself the expert on the latest developments. Find out what skills are being sought  ask what are the capabilities that employers are having trouble finding and go get that skill for yourself.

Hirers don’t have time to train new staff any more  they want someone to hit the ground running  so you need to be that person.

Have an answer to the question: “What are you working on now?” (Think of it first as an answer you give to yourself.) Find something that you care about and are interested in  and do it. It could be the new technology that you are learning. You could be writing an article on the latest developments in your field  and the good news is that today you don’t have to worry about not getting it published, you just put it out on your blog and tweet it onwards. Go to meetups in your field and find out what is new and what is going on and who is doing what.

There are things you can write on your resume or in your cover letter: you are blogging on the bleeding edge of your field, you are taking the new skills course, you are contributing your abilities to a nonprofit  put it down  show that you are doing something that is relevant  that you have a job in the field  because you do  even though you may not be getting paid just yet.

But this is still narrow thinking. You can go further. Try to understand what will make you attractive to a hirer. It may be that an international business will appreciate that you spent three months working in retail in Paris. A qualification like that could really set you apart from your competitors.  A company that encourages initiative and bold thinking might be attracted by that fact that you spent the summer sky-diving in the Andes with the condors. Or went to Outward Bound.

Think broadly about what can make you attractive and tailor your activity to that. Present what you have been doing as a coherent effort to make yourself a more valuable person  skills, leadership, adventure, initiative. It will give you something productive to talk about and that will make you a stronger candidate.

Michael Pollock is President of Pollock Spark ( ). He is an Executive Coach and Consultant to Creative and Media professionals. He works with people in film, TV, advertising, design, marketing, music and the Internet, bringing them the experience, techniques and inspiration to take their businesses and careers to new levels of success.