Have you just been laid off? Or have you been out of work for a while? What do you put on your resume?

Now is the time to do something about it. Not in 6 months or a year when you rewrite your resume and cannot account for 6 months or a year or more with no paid work.

Here are five different ways you may make the best use of your time while you are out of work and job hunting

1) Volunteer – volunteering for a noble cause is good for them and good for you. Volunteering for an organization or using the skills you have is even better for your resume. For example, if you are in finance, you can volunteer to teach financial literacy for the Financial Women’s Association. If you are in marketing or branding or fundraising, you can volunteer for the Taproot Foundation, which offers pro Bono consulting services to non-profits.

2) Consult – With all your expertise in x you can become a consultant either short-term while you pursue full-time employment, or consider doing it full-time. Managers can do strategic planning, board retreats. IT folks can design websites for small businesses. Bookkeepers and accountants can work on short-term projects.

3) Join a professional association and become active – by joining you can build your network of experts in your field who can then alert you to new opportunities. You can work on a committee of the board which gets you more involved and you get to build relationships with the other members.

4) Improve your skills. Take a course or a multi-course certificate program. There are dozens of online courses and low cost alternatives at local community colleges and high schools. Fallen behind with technology? Now is the time to bone up on Excel or Constant Contact or some other application.

5) Work a temporary job – To stay sharp and keep productive and have something on your resume to fill the gap, a temporary job in your field may be just the thing. Choose an agency that specializes in your field and go in with your eyes open for opportunities. Short-term placements are open in many fields. And some of them turn into permanent positions.

The point is, why wait? After a few months of job hunting without significant results, your resume will have a gap Make sure you take steps to do something productive with your time NOW that shows you are using your current skills or building new ones.

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