Finding a job these days is easier said than done. The unemployment rate in the U.S. seems to grow month to month, and most employers are not hiring any new workers until the economy turns around. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in March the number of unemployed workers increased by 694,000 to 13.2 million and the unemployment rate rose to 8.5 percent.
It's easy to get discouraged when reports of rising unemployment and faltering businesses plague the news. But the worst thing you could do is just sit around and wait for things to get better. If you're between jobs right now, you need to work on sharpening your job skills and staying busy. Here are five ways to keep your skills fresh and stay busy when you're in between jobs:
1. Go Back to School. There are several scholarships and grants - such as the Post 911 GI Bill or the Pat Tillman scholarship - that can help subsidize an education for veterans. If you have just transitioned out of the service and can't find a job, obtaining your degree can enhance your skills and make you a more desirable job candidate to employers.
2. Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community as well as improve your skill sets. Several volunteer organizations, such as the Red Cross, can provide volunteer positions that will help you build organizational as well as people skills.
3. Attend Career Fairs. Going to career fairs, such as the Military.com Career Expo, can help place you in front of potential employers and get your resume out there. You can also get a feel from job recruiters what kind of positions are open, when new ones will become available, and what kind of employee they're looking for. You can also get instant feedback on your resume or job interviewing skills if you ask for it.
4. Join a Veterans/Professional/Social Networking Organization. Joining a veterans, professional, or social network - such as the Veterans Career Network, or the Military.com Member Profiles page - can help you connect with other job seekers who may have information on potential job opportunities, or the job market itself.
5. Find an internship. An internship is a great way to explore a new career path, or get your foot in the door at a company you'd like to work for when they do start hiring. Additionally, it's a great way to keep your skills up to date.
If you choose to take the initiative to put your time to good use, you'll show your prospective employer that unemployment didn't stop you from improving your jobs skills.
For more tips on staying productive while unemployed or to search for military-friendly employers visit Military.com's Careers Channel.