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April 24, 2014 at 1:00 AM

More things to do while you’re unemployed

Last week I talked about some engaging and inspiring activities that are not job hunting, per se, but will help you during your job hunt. Blogging, volunteering, continuing education and entrepreneurship are the top choices (you don’t have to do them all, of course). Want more ideas? Here are six:

Learn a new language. Being bilingual is an impressive item to include on any resume, so this may be the time to brush up on that high school Spanish. Bilingualism is a useful skill in all aspects of life, not just your career. You don’t have to enroll in an expensive program to learn another language; find a native speaker who wants to practice English and do a conversation exchange. It’s free and fun.

Lose weight/get fit. You’ll feel better, look better and make a better impression at job interviews. What’s not to like?

Practice public speaking. Join a group like Toastmasters and get out there. It will improve your interview skills, and you will meet people. Many clubs, associations and classes are looking for speakers — especially free ones.

Teach a class. Don’t think you’re qualified? Think again. If you’re a receptionist, you could teach phone skills to immigrants. If you’re an engineer, you could tutor high school kids in math. Not only can this be a very satisfying “hobby,” it looks darn good on a resume.

Get an internship. “Working for free” has a few advantages. Mostly, an internship looks better on a resume than a long stretch of unemployment. It’s also a good venue to learn/practice new skills, build a portfolio and expand your network.

Freelance/temp. This one has the advantage of bringing some money in — good for your morale as well as your bottom line. No matter how small the assignment, you will still be able to put “currently freelancing” (or temping) on your resume.

Again, you don’t have to implement all of these ideas. Just choose the ones that are the most doable, that you have an aptitude for or that appeal to you the most. When you’re at job interviews, you will appreciate being able to point to the productive, interesting things you do when left to your own devices.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at

More in Work Life Blog | Topics: career planning, job search, unemployment

Blog contributors

Randy Woods Writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Former contributors

Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.


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