Be a Better Candidate

Do volunteer work. Finding a non-profit organization that interests you can be a great way use your free time productively. From a personal standpoint, you will benefit from the opportunity to meet new people, pick up some new skills, and do something worth feeling good about.

Find an Internship. You may think that being an intern is lowly for a recent graduate, but it’s crucial to have intern experience under your belt in today’s market. Even if you get an internship that’s unpaid and only keeps you occupied a couple days a week, it provides valuable experience to add to your resume and speak about with potential employers. Furthermore, it could be your golden ticket to a full-time gig—many great entry-level jobs never even make it onto jobs listings sites and instead are filled out of the pool of available interns.

Learn a New Skill. The more skills you bring to the table, the more attractive you’ll be to potential employers. Take advantage of the free time you have and learn to program, use Photoshop, or speak conversational Spanish. Find something that’s coveted in the field that interests you and dive in. If you are a self-starter you can find books and websites to learn almost anything for free, but you can also check out sites like Craiglist to track down tutors of all types.

Freelance or Find a Temp Gig. Why not make a little money and gain some exposure while you’re searching for a full-time opportunity? In the age of online content, finding freelance gigs is easier than ever, though the pay has suffered as a result. Moreover, you don’t have to be writer to freelance—web designers, artists, programmers, and copy editors can all pawn off their services. In addition to Craigslist, check out Indeed, SoloGig, and Mandy.

Take a (Productive) Vacation. Ok, so maybe going to Southeast Asia won’t help you with the specific goal of getting hired. But if your job-hunt is dragging on interminably, why not take a trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go? The chances of taking off on a two-month backpacking trek grow slimmer by the day once you’re on a career track, and as long as you explain your travels constructively, they shouldn’t hurt your chances of landing a job. In fact, they may even help. Employers value a range of experiences and a proven ability to be independent, and many companies report that employees who have taken gap years demonstrate more maturity and stay on longer than their peers.