Downtime and Holidays – A Job Search Guide

Labor Day weekend is just around the corner and that doesn’t just mean the start of a new school year and the approach of football season. Beginning in 1882, this holiday celebrates the economic achievements of the American worker. This year, take the opportunity of the last long weekend before work starts ramping up again to invest in your own economic achievements.  Here are ten ways to use the holiday to improve your ongoing career prospects:

1. Understand Your Strengths

Each of us has a unique set of core character traits that make us both valuable and indispensable in life and the workplace.  You should spend some time considering what sets you apart, and how you can utilize these strengths on your current job and with any future employment. There are numerous tests online that you can take to measure your abilities.

When you know your core strengths, you will be better able to sell yourself during an interview, and when you use them on the job, you’ll have a better chance of being noticed for achievement and promotion.

2. Update Your Information

You should boost your career potential by doing a little research, keeping in touch with the latest techniques and the newest products. This would include reading industry and scholarly journals and exploring product and customer reviews.

3. Visit the App Store

Take the long weekend to organize your job search using the newest technology.  There are numerous applications available for tablets, e-readers, and smart phones that allow for customized delivery of industry news from websites and blogs and many career networking websites, including LinkedIn and the Ladders, offer apps designed to keep you informed about industry trends, breaking news, and career opportunities.

4. Read a Good Book

A long weekend provides a great opportunity to pick up a book on leadership or organization in order to work on personal character development.  If you’re unsure of what you should read, reach out to a trusted advisor or mentor for recommendations.  Then, when Tuesday comes around, you will already be prepared to implement some fresh ideas that will bring your career forward.

5. Update That Resume

Time to dust off that old resume and bring it up to date.  Or call in a professional for a complete overhaul to better emphasize your achievements.  After all, your resume and online presence (LinkedIn profile, etc.) are not a recycled collection of outdated career facts; they are all about personal branding, providing your current and future employers a solid expression of what you have to offer.

6. Thank Your Network Contacts

Select a few people who have leant you a hand recently and let them know how much you appreciate their ongoing support — but don’t send them an email.

Instead, mail them a real, personalized hand-written thank you note telling them you appreciate their advice and job leads and letting them know whether they led to any interviews or new jobs.  And also be sure to remind them that they can also count on you if they ever need any career resources or even just encouragement.

7. Give Yourself a Hand

There’s no better time than an annual holiday to take stock of how far you’ve already come. Take a moment to write down at least five things you have reason to be proud of and five things for which you should be thankful.  Notice what has been going well so that you can build on those positives in the coming weeks.

8. Search for Training

Find a certification or training program that will likely enhance your career and get started.  You probably won’t have sufficient time in a single weekend to complete an entire program, but nevertheless you can research programs and begin preparations.

9. Prepare for a One-on-One With Your Boss

Share your career goals with your boss. Many professionals can enlist the aid of their boss in achieving their career aspirations, so sit down with them and let them know your career direction. But take some time during the long weekend to prepare, including specifics like tasks or assignments you think you can do that would help you move in the right direction.

10. Give Volunteering a Try

Before you change careers or fields, it’s sometimes helpful to undertake a related volunteer opportunity.  Volunteer or work for free for a few days in your new field so that you can gain insight as well as begin building your new resume.  This will also allow you the opportunity to network and make your first contacts.

So don’t just lounge around this Labor Day weekend; take advantage of the time to get ahead.

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