Flexibility = key to staying employable

The unfortunate reality of the current job market is that it is exceedingly difficult to find full time employment, especially employment that is related to your field of interest. However, if you’re willing to remain flexible, you’ll likely find yourself far more employable when the job market finally makes a turn for the better. Here are some suggestions for ways to stay flexible.

Consider conducting a national job search and be open to relocation.

You never know what amazing opportunities may await you if you are willing to open your search to a national level. If you are offered a job, you don’t have to accept the offer. On the other hand, you may realize you’ve found a job for which you’d be willing to move.

Explore non-traditional forms of work.

It may be difficult to find full time employment, but you might string together a combination of part time, temporary, or contract jobs. If possible, make sure at least one of the positions is related to your longer term career goals so that you’re able to keep your skills and knowledge current. While non-traditional work has its challenges (for example, you likely won’t qualify for benefits), there are definite advantages, as well. You’ll pick up a lot more experience in a shorter period of time. You’ll be exposed to more networking opportunities. You won’t be constrained to any one position. Non-traditional work usually offers a lot more variety.

Be open to applying your skills in different industries or sectors. 

For example, if you are an educator but are having difficulty finding employment as a public school teacher, consider applying your teaching skills to the non-profit sector in youth development programs. Or, look for teaching positions within large hospitals. Hospitals periodically hire teachers to work with children who must stay in the hospital for extended periods of time. The key is to be creative and to think of other settings in which your skills may be assets.

Broaden your network.

If you already have a reliable network of professionals, consider expanding your network to professionals in other geographic locations, other industries and other fields. Then, look for creative ways that you can be helpful to your contacts. Yes, you may be the one looking for employment, but that shouldn’t stop you from being helpful. While you’re engaged in finding creative ways to be helpful, your mind is too busy to be worried about finding employment, and you’re still being productive.

If possible, find unpaid opportunities.

Post baccalaureate internships, community service, or other unpaid experiences keep your skills fresh and, if performed within your field, allow you to demonstrate a genuine interest in your profession. If you’re unable to find paid employment within your industry, unpaid opportunities may help you stay current with industry trends.

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