How to Boost Your Job Search through Personal Projects

March 26th, 2013 | Articles, Job Search | No Comments »


Looking for ways to boost your job search? Start up your own career-oriented personal project! It can do wonders for your search.

When in the midst of negotiating a slow-going job search, you may consider banishing your personal projects until you set your feet down on the terra firma of a new job. Ignore that inclination. Career-related personal projects – when given time, focus, and the full complement of your creativity – may do more to help you escape from a dead end career or a stint of unemployment than you would otherwise expect. Regardless of whether your work is for a cause, supplementary income, or just to boost your prestige among your industry peers, the benefits to your career can be enormous.

Boost your portfolio: A good personal project gives your portfolio a lively vibe, showing that the creative mechanisms in your brain do not stop turning the second you punch out for the day. When your resume lists off your personal projects, you are subtly communicating that you possess a number of soft skills that prospective employers love:

• You have the wherewithal to transform nebulous concepts into rich, concrete products.
• You have a burning passion that will guide you through the long hours and mind-racking conundrums that would leave others lost and defeated in the dark.
• You are self-motivated, functioning just as well without structure as you do with it.

Creating these types of mental associations for a hiring manager can earn you an interview, even if you are in the midst of an employment gap. They see that even though you may have stopped collecting a pay check, you will never allow your talents to rust or your passion to smolder.

Expand your knowledge: Is there a brand new software, technology, or technique that has caught your eye? Pursue it through the unbounded freedom of your own career-related personal project. At your own steady pace, you can apply your new knowledge in a real-world setting, test driving it in the context of a project you completely control. The objectives and deadlines are all under your direction, removing the stressful constraints you might encounter in a work scenario. This technique works best when you opt for a project that already piques your interest. That way, you aren’t arduously struggling against a torrential downpour of new challenges without the motivation to move onward.

By increasing your versatility and pushing your aptitudes forward, you can open up opportunities that would otherwise have been welded shut & outside of your reach. With your willingness to expand your knowledge, hiring managers may be more inclined to overlook any technical deficiencies in your current skills; they can see that nothing is outside your grasp and that it is more than worthwhile to give an adaptable pro like you a chance.

Establish new contacts: The lone wolf approach, though perfectly fine for some people, isn’t your only option on a career-related personal project. If you find others who share your interests, form a partnership to achieve your mutual aims. Learn from their knowledge, share your own, and pool your collective brainpower to steamroll obstacles that would have otherwise impeded your progress. Think of it as having a workout partner. As you strive to keep yourself in peak physical condition, you will have help to tighten up your techniques and to muscle through obstacles that would have otherwise left you crushed.

Best of all, a partnership like this can amplify your networking outreach. You can exchange job leads. Your collaborators can introduce you to other industry professionals, helping you to increase your web of influence. Better yet, it can catapult you beyond any wall that has blocked your search, providing you with new fields of opportunity that were previously outside of your range.

In conclusion: By making the time to pursue a career-related personal project, you not only feed your passions but can advance your standing & appeal in the overall talent pool. So, take the time, focus on where your devotions lie, and get down to business – the difference between a successful personal project and a pipe dream is action, plain and simple.

by James Walsh

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