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CareersWhether you are a fresh graduate unable to find work in your field of interest, an experienced professional who is unemployed, or simply a dissatisfied employee with vacation days at your disposal, here is how you can use your free time to prepare for your next career move:

Prepare. Pursue an academic degree or a certification to ensure that your skill set stays relevant in a dynamic business environment. Keep an eye out for apprenticeships, graduate programmes and part-time, freelance or consultancy positions; not only will you benefit from training, mentorship and experience, they may lead to permanent employment if you are able to prove your worth at the organisation.

Volunteer. Joining social welfare programmes can add value to your resume, thereby increasing your chances of being head-hunted. Employers today are on the lookout for people with high emotional quotients and diverse skill sets. Raising funds for charities or teaching at your neighbourhood school will help develop and polish your communication, event planning and management skills, which are important no matter where you work.

Network. Knowing the right people in the right places can help ensure that you learn about vacancies before they are advertised. Update your online profile and reconnect with former employers, colleagues and batch mates; they might direct you towards potential opportunities or put in a good word for you, maximising your chances of being hired.

Show some entrepreneurship spirit. If you have an entrepreneurial streak, consider launching your own business; you will need a business plan and resources for the setup. Although the financial risks involved are significant – given that more than 50% of small businesses fail within a year of being launched – the returns if you succeed (think Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook or Jan Koum’s Whatsapp), both monetary and personal, tend to be exponential.

– Sahr Nadeem Tariq
The writer is a project coordinator at a multinational company. sahrnadeem@gmail.com

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 26, 2015.