Learning is a lifelong pursuit requiring time, patience and commitment. But suppose you're looking for a job right now, and you want a rapid knowledge boost before the interviews begin. Sheri Mullin, veteran human resources director, offers these tips on gaining knowledge in a hurry. Help Yourself to How-To Literature Grab a self-help book and master a skill. HTML, Java, PowerPoint, bookkeeping, statistics, business writing -- anything relevant to your field. If you're searching for a job because of a layoff, this move will demonstrate what you've been doing with your time off. Extra points: If you're certain about where you want to work, find out what software they use and learn it. Get Certified Prove you really know your stuff by getting your skills certified. "Technology is changing constantly, and you really need to [show] you're keeping up," says Mullin. Besides skill certifications, she points out there are certifications for industry knowledge. Make sure you include your certifications on your resume. Network Now's the time to "network and enrich your skills," Mullen says. Join formal or informal groups in your area that offer networking and learning opportunities. If you already belong to a group, join a committee or take on a more intensive role. Broaden your knowledge by getting involved in a group project or activity in which you have little or no experience. Associations can provide you with contacts, area-specific industry information and the chance to stay active in your field. Get to Know Your Industry Show prospective employers you spend your free time learning about their industry instead of watching TV. "It could be something as simple as reading the business section," Mullin remarks. Brush up on industry statistics, hot new technologies and star players. Even if it doesn't come up in the interview, your new knowledge will make you exude confidence. Subscribe to industry journals and listservs and look for new books on your field. Learn About Companies in Your Area Much like knowing your industry, you should also know what's going on in your region in some detail. Thanks to the Internet, there is no excuse for not researching the companies to which you apply. Better still, you'll be able to talk about your prospective employer's competitors and partners in the interview. This will help you be perceived as the go-to person even before you get there. Volunteer, Intern or Mentor If possible, donate your time. If you're in business, give your time to a nonprofit business you care about. Mentor someone just starting out in your field. See if you can give a lecture at your local library. Mentioning these experiences during an interview will demonstrate that you care about your industry and show your ability to motivate yourself. And that could lead to a deeper, more personal conversation. If you are not working, volunteering could also give you a sense of accomplishment and professionalism during a stressful time. Commit to Your Own Project Another good answer to the question, "What have you done lately?" is your own personal work. Display your enthusiasm for your industry by creating your own projects when your job doesn't give you the opportunity. If you're a Webmaster, build your own Web site. If you're a writer, write something. If you're a graphic designer, make some graphics at home. Owning and controlling a project of your own choosing will teach you about your field and how to be self-sufficient. Hire-ability is about displaying your informed, enthusiastic, confident and committed qualities. There's no denying that a long history of industry-specific learning is impressive on a resume. But even if all you have is a day, a week or a month, you still have time to do some very useful knowledge building. This article originally appeared on Monster Learning: http://learning.monster.com. [
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