Plug the gap.
Being out of work, creates a glaring gap on your resume. Your work history has come to a (hopefully temporary) dead end.
This makes job seekers lose sleep at night and I don’t blame them.
So the question is: “What can you do about it?”
I say, “Plenty, if you have something of value to offer.”
Everyone has some level knowledge and skills needed by someone else. You may know how to:
- Organize: information, schedules, office space, projects, or events
- Troubleshoot: software, IT tools, work processes
- Consult/coach: on performance, problem solving, change, life skills, regulation
- Create: specialty items, written materials, social media tools, art
- Present: training, speeches, proposals, videos
There are clients/customers who need your know-how. It doesn’t matter whether you charge them for your services or not. Each time you serve someone, you are functioning as an entrepreneur.
It’s time to reveal this work on your resume.
Self-employment is employment. Working for yourself is about providing services to others.
When you do that formally, you are functioning as an entrepreneur.
Working for yourself shows the hiring manager that you:
- Take your capabilities and their value seriously
- Can attract and successfully serve clients/customers
- Are a self-starter, committed to building your career
- Have the courage to put yourself out there
- Are motivated and energetic about taking on new challenges
“Being” your own business showcases what you’ve been doing since you’ve been out of work. It maintains your employment continuity, so you’re always working up to the present.
Your resume will need to name your business and include the outcomes you’ve achieved for your clients—problems solved, installations completed, savings achieved, or negative impacts avoided. That’s what you include in your bullets.
You may decide to keep your “business” active while you’re working or only between jobs. Either way you’ll want to address that on the resume or in your cover letter.
Becoming a business entity isn’t complicated, for these purposes. Just:
- Create a business name as a sole proprietorship. To keep things simple, consider using all or part of your own name.
- Get business cards.
- Write a simple statement about what service(s) you’re offering, so you can tell people when they ask.
- Decide on a fee-for-service when you need/want to charge
- Get the word out (social media makes this easy, networking too)
- Consider a blog that can double as a simple website where you write about what you do and post about what you know (This adds credibility for clients/customers and a credential for a future hiring manager to consider.)
Find a few clients/customers (non-profits are often a good source) where you can work on a pro bono (free) basis, in exchange for a testimonial that you can use if they’re satisfied. This is also how you’ll get those outcome statements for resume bullets.
Ask for referrals and see where your efforts take you. Remember, you’re not trying to turn this into an all-consuming business, (although it could grow into something significant). You’re still in the job search. So balance your time. Pick your spots.
I once worked with a client who’d been out of work for over two years. He was looking for an executive position in sales but couldn’t get a look. So, he set up solo sales training consultancy with himself as the president. He had no paying clients, but that didn’t matter. He suddenly was at the table with the people he needed to meet with.
Your career is in your hands. Being out of work is an empty feeling. It can drag you down. Staying in the game is important for your psyche and your resume.
You don’t need a job to do valued work. You just need an outlet. That you can create for yourself by staying business fit.
Photo from David Vincent Johnson via Flickr