Preparing for a new career is a time-consuming and difficult process, especially if you are searching for a job. You must create and continually update your resume, write cover letters, and complete applications. Your days are regularly filled with phone calls and, hopefully, interviews. Throw into the mix finding time for family and even some recreation, and there just isn’t enough time in the day. However, I want to add one more thing to your job search process: continued learning. You must strive to continuously better yourself by continuing to learn. Before you stop reading, let me assure you that I am not necessarily speaking of formal education which costs money you don’t have. All the same, continued learning is vital to your progress and success in the job search.
Become a Better Reader
Formal education is not the only way to learn. There are endless numbers of books available on virtually any topic you could think of. Find a couple of well-respected books related to your industry and read them. Dig into books on time-management or leadership development. Even pick up a good fiction novel every now and them. The point is, keep reading. Reading will develop critical thinking skills, expand your vocabulary, and make you better equipped for the career you are searching for.
Become a Student of Your Prospects
Go online and research the particular companies you are applying for. Don’t go into the interview without any knowledge of the organization, industry, or job field for which you are applying. Show the employer that you have done your research, like what you see, and sincerely want to work for this organization. Remember, this will require you to be intentional and spend time on this task, but it is a vital step in the process.
The news is continually changing. Don’t be caught off guard not having any knowledge of the latest major item in the news. This does not mean you must learn of every Hollywood scandal or all the latest sports scores, but you should be current. If there is a Hurricane brewing in the ocean, be aware of it and know its name. You should know if a police officer was just shot in your area, the President is coming to town, or that a snow storm is about to hit. If there is a big tournament or playoffs for a sport, know which teams are participating. Again, the point is not to know every detail, but simply to be aware of what is happening. Show that you care and are current when one of these topics comes up in small talk. This step should only take 10-15 minutes a day.
Find and Attend Available Classes
Search for free classes in your area. I know in my town one of the Community Colleges offers free job training classes for anyone who is currently unemployed. Check to see if something similar is available where you live. Along these lines, look for local job fairs, job networking opportunities, or employment ministries at local churches.
Earn Meaningful Certifications
Begin studying for certification tests for skills which would aid in your being hired. Some certifications, or at least study materials, may be available for free online or at your local library. Most tests will require a fee, but if it is important you should budget the expense as necessary.
Pursue Formal Education
If you have the time, funds, and ability it may be time to pursue formal education. Enroll in a certificate program, university, or graduate school. If you pursue this route, be sure to check into grants and scholarships before applying.