4 Professional Development Ideas for When You’re Still on the Job Hunt

If you are still on the job hunt or have been postponed due to COVID-19, you may be left wondering what to do in the meanwhile. Even if you’re submitting applications and actively networking, you may still have “downtime” you’d like to dedicate to professional development.

What else can you do to improve your resume and keep your skills sharp? Here are some ideas and resources to dive into:

Volunteer with local non-profit organizations.

If you are looking for ways to get hands-on experience while still job searching, reach out to local non-profits, schools, and other community-fueled groups to see if they need help in your areas of expertise. While we’re on lockdown, it may need to be virtual, but there’s still plenty to do! Balance the books for a local fundraiser; volunteer your social media savvy for an animal rescue; or see if you can join a development team for the community garden.

These are great ways to do good for others, build real-world experience, expand your network, and add something special to your resume.

Google around for local organizations and reach out to the leader in your area of interest. You can also check out volunteer (and job) opportunities on Idealist.

Go on informational interviews with professionals you look up to.

You can still learn about the innerworkings of a role or industry, even without a job offer. One-on-one chats with professionals in your areas of interest are low-stakes opportunities to learn tricks of the trade, get an expert perspective on your skillset, and have your questions answered straight from the source. These interviews are great opportunities to learn, and can even help you add names to your network, demonstrate your interest in a company, or lead to mentorship opportunities.

Setting up an interview can be as easy as reaching out. Check out company directories or search LinkedIn for people with roles you are interested in. Explain why you are interested in hearing from them and ask for a few moments of their time for a phone call, a video chat, or even coffee (once it is safe to do so). If your schedule is flexible and you are polite with your ask, you are likely to get a positive response!

You can supercharge your outreach by connecting with UVM alumni through UVM Connect. Anyone with the “Willing to Help” banner actively wants to work with current students and recent graduates – so go ahead and reach out to your fellow Catamounts.

Take a short course in a professional area of interest.

Your Grossman degree has given you an amazing head start, but there’s always something new to learn! Employers love candidates who are “self-starters” who “show initiative” —  and continuing education is a great way to put that on display.

It can also help you boost your credentials for specific roles you are interested in. There are countless short, cheap/free courses online in very specialized skills, programs, platforms, or arenas – from Google AdWords to brand-new coding languages — you may not have had time to dive into while at UVM.  If you spot an exciting job description that asks for experience with skill that you don’t currently have, see if you can learn it. This can open doors for new career paths and make you an attractive candidate, even without direct professional experience.

There are countless learning platforms out there, but the most popular are:

LinkedIn Learning – Name recognition and expert teachers make this a great first choice. You can snag free access with a LinkedIn Professional trial.

Coursera – Take courses from universities all over the world for free. String multiple courses together for certificates and credentials.

Udemy or Skillshare – Take courses from professionals in your field of interest. They often have $10 coupons and free trials.

CodeAcademy, DataCamp, or Treehouse – Programming, coding, and data analytics-focused programs with free trials and affordable monthly fees.

Polish your LinkedIn profile until it sparkles.

Use some free moments to go over your LinkedIn profile, your public-facing social media, and any online portfolios you have to make it professional, clean, and easy to read. Make yourself impossible for an employer to resist! Remember, they are looking at every candidate as potential solution to a problem they have; so, what makes you the best choice?

Add your skills, expand your job descriptions, connect with others, and write a snappy personal summary. Not sure where to start? Check out some great tips for a killer LinkedIn profile from The Muse and Balance Careers.

Want more advice or looking to jump into your paper resume? GSB is here to help alums, too. Contact Madison.Berry@UVM.edu to go over your materials and check-in on how we can boost your job search.

As always, feel free to send me any questions, thoughts, or concerns you have. All of GSB is excited to help you succeed!


By Madison Berry
Madison Berry Student Success Advisor & Employer Engagement Liaison Madison Berry