Career strategies to keep your career moving forward between jobs, even if your job search is put on hold.

While most career experts warn professionals to think twice before taking a break between jobs, there are many job seekers who take some time off before starting their job search in earnest. These people usually fall into one of these categories:

(1) Recent college graduates who decide to take one last summer or winter break off before they enter the real world;

(2) Experienced professionals who feel the need to take some time off after leaving or getting laid off from a stressful work environment;

(3) Professionals who are facing a crisis in another part of their lives and feel compelled to leave their job while they handle the matter, with no designs of finding another position right away; and

(4) Unemployed professionals who were searching for a new job for a while, to no avail, and decide they need a break from the stress of the job search.

If you've decided to put your job search on hold for awhile, it may be tempting to forget about your career altogether during that period. Resist that urge! It's in your best interest to take small steps during your sabbatical from the job search to keep your career moving in the right direction.

Work on your personal brand

Use this time to work on the different pieces of your personal brand, such as your professional resume and cover letter and your online presence. Submit your resume for a free review so you get a handle on how much time you'll need to dedicate to getting your resume in good shape before your job search. Also, run a Google search on your name, as it appears on your resume, to see what information employers will find when they search for you.

If you have any personal social media accounts you don't want employers to associate with your candidacy, now's the time to increase the security settings and change the usernames to a nickname so you're confident your private accounts are well-hidden from recruiters.

Click on the following link to download my free personal branding checklist.

Turn parties into networking goldmines

You don't have to attend formal business networking events and industry conferences to build a valuable network of connections. While you're officially out of the job search, take advantage of your social activities to work on your networking skills. Remember, every block party, wedding reception, and holiday get-together is a networking opportunity in the making.

Use these events to practice delivering your elevator pitch and connect with new people. You never know, the guy dating your sister's best friend could be the key to landing your new job position in the future. You may not be in an active job-search mode right now, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't lay the groundwork for informational interviews down the road.

Related: How to Turn Holiday Parties into Networking Goldmines

Learn a new job skill

When you find yourself back in the job market, employers will want to know what you were doing with your time between jobs. That's why it's in your best interest to find ways to sharpen your current job skills or learn something new. For instance, you may decide to volunteer for an organization that is near and dear to your heart and allows you to leverage your soft and hard skills. You can find these skill-based volunteer opportunities on sites like Catchafire.

Even if you're planning the ultimate post-college vacation, you can still brush up on a skill through a self-paced online course offered on platforms like Skillshare, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning, or pick up one of these highly-recommended career development books to read during your travels.

Get a job

Yes, I know. If you're reading this article, it's because you already decided to pause your job search for the time being. I get it. However, there's a difference between pursuing a job that's important for your long-term career path and landing a short-term gig that will provide some income while your career is on cruise control.

For a recent college grad, it may mean going back to that sweet lifeguarding gig you've had for the past few summer breaks or some other temporary job that isn't related to your career goals. For other professionals, it may translate to a volunteer position or a freelance opportunity.

In an ideal world, your position would still help you gain relevant industry experience or build skills that are considered important for the next role you pursue in your career. Regardless, it's easier to explain to employers what you've been doing during your time between jobs when you can show you've been working, even if it's not relevant to your current job search.

Recharge your batteries

If you're going to take some time off, make sure you're getting the R&R you need. Take time during this break to relax, get plenty of rest, and indulge in some pampering so you're reenergized when it's time to get back into the job market.

Take these little steps while your job search is on hold and you'll be sure to keep your career on track while between jobs.

And, when you're ready to jumpstart your job search again, download my free job-search action plan to get started.  

Want to see how your resume stacks up? Request a free review today!

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