How to Keep Your Skills Sharp When You’re Between Jobs

March 17, 2014

job skillsOne of the hardest things to explain to potential employers is a gap in employment. It’s especially difficult if you have a skills gap. Even if you don’t have a “real” job in your field, it’s important to let potential employers know that you’ve been keeping your skills your sharp, and that you are a valuable asset.

So, as you look for work, you need to do what you can to stay on top of your career. Here are some things you can do to keep your skills sharp when you’re between jobs:

Take a Class

Perhaps your job skills have declined a bit, or you’re not quite up to date. Maybe you want to make a bit of a change and re-enter the workforce with a slightly different skill set. If this is the case, see about taking a class. You can go back to school to finish a degree, or take a seminar or course that offers a certification that you think will be valuable.

In any case, the fact that you are improving your skills and expanding your abilities through education offers a good reason for your employment gap. Not only can you boost your marketability, but you also have an ironclad alibi for your lack of a job over the course of a few months. This is important, since studies indicate that the longer you are unemployed, the harder it is to find a job. You can reduce this difficulty if you can show that you have been using the time productively.


If you have skills that others can use, consider volunteering. You can keep your skills sharp by helping others. Depending on your abilities, you might be able to help with PR, bookkeeping, building, project management, or any number of tasks that many charitable organizations need help with. Not only will you stay up to speed, but you will also show potential employers that you haven’t been idle.

Volunteering is also a good way to meet new people and expand your career network. You might get access to new job opportunities through the people you meet volunteering. A good cause often brings people in the community out of the woodwork, and you might be surprised at the doors that open even as you keep your skills sharp.

Start a Side Hustle

Perhaps you can keep your skills sharp by starting a side gig. Even if you want to find a new job, chances are that your skills can be used to make money for you, rather than make money for someone else. While you want to keep up the job hunt, you can also start your own business, and use your skills to help you earn a little extra.

You can talk to potential employers about your entrepreneurial ideas, as well as possibly make some money on the side. Your skills stay sharp, you look like a go-getter, and you might even make enough that the new job is unnecessary.

What do you think? Have you had to keep your skills sharp during a period of unemployment? Leave a comment!


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Miranda writes about personal finance almost every day. An experienced freelance writer, she's covered your money online and in print from every angle and is always looking for new ones.

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One Response to How to Keep Your Skills Sharp When You’re Between Jobs

  • Marie @ Financial Debauchery

    Thank you for posting this. I learned a lot. Well, I am starting a side hustle now, and it was a great help for me. Aside from earning money yet I also had fun doing it.