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Keeping Skills Sharp after being Laid off

Even while employed one must be concerned about better developing one’s job skills or acquiring new ones, let alone when laid off. This is a challenging time for anyone for several reasons. Apart from the loss of direly needed funds, one’s skills may slowly fall below par or eventually be lost. It even poses a potential threat should someone come across an opportunity for employment after a prolonged period of time.

According to the Department of Labor 2009 statistics, 14,8% of the US workforce was not being made use of. Crucial to finding new employment as well as maintaining a present job, are sustaining or advancing work skills. How, then, does one stay on top of things when out of the workforce? A career adviser suggested the following points: continuing education, professional organizations and volunteering.


At first glance, volunteering may seem unfair and a waste of time. Quite the contrary, it is the ‘I have nothing to lose and everything to gain’ situation. It not only provides you with constructive time on your hands, but it also supplies you with experience for your resume which may attract prospective employers. Although many may not consider volunteering as work experience, it is exactly that. And when someone sees that one’s time was not idled away but spent productively, it is a plus to one’s professional assets.

More importantly, job skills are not lost while new skills may be acquired. A good place to start is the Taproot Foundation which can connect volunteers to businesses that can use the help. This way one sharpens skills and makes new links. This does not mean that one’s problem will be instantly resolved, but it does mean that a window will open to more opportunity. Always keep in mind that those with something to offer are always appreciated and they eventually find their way.

Such an example is Shawn Graham, director of MBA career services at the University of Pittsburgh and author of “Courting Your Career”.  Back in 1997 after being laid off  from his retail job, he sought volunteer work at the career offices of three colleges. One took him in and a few months later he was given a paid spot there. Since then, he has found work at two other universities. In some cases volunteering can make a great difference.

*Continuing Education

This is a must for everyone since in today’s world nothing stays the same for long. Most, if not all, jobs nowadays continue to develop whether it be adapting new methods of work or acquiring state of the art technology, which requires regular education. One should make certain that certification of some kind is provided and if one cannot personally attend classes, it is a good idea to look for online training.

As a matter of fact, any certification of one’s work acquired ten years ago or even more is considered out of date. The growing potential online means, one should be social networking. In the case of job hunting this can prove quite accommodating as the possibilities of finding work increase.  Some experts also suggest having a faculty appointment. This is because colleges and universities make the most of adjunct faculty for a range of needs (this has been criticized by some professional organizations and educators).

One of the most common reasons for hiring adjunct faculty is to supplement existing staff. This occurs when enrolment exceeds expectations. It should be noted that adjunct faculty members do not have access to health care, retirement benefits or other benefits provided to full time employees but it is a fine way to become known and appreciated.

*Professional Organizations

These organizations also need help. It is usually to maintain Web sites or organize their capital which to an unemployed professional means utilizing pining skills.   

Whatever action one decides to take, the point is to be active. Remember that where there’s a will there is a way and people who are earnest, eager and professional are, nine times out of ten, employed in the end.

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