How to keep your skills sharp when you’re unemployed

The national average for landing a new job is about eight months. How do you keep your momentum going and your skills fresh during this time of transition?

The first step is to identify the skills that are currently in demand for your target job(s) and determine the best way to build on or refine the competencies you already have. Don’t rely on your assumptions about what is required—find out the facts from those who are hiring.

Beyond the options of enrolling in classes at a local adult education program or university, there are other ways to stay on top of your game. Here are some examples:

  • Enroll in a certificate-yielding program in a university or college’s continuing education program

  • Explore seminars and workshops offered by your professional association, (they may offer a reduced rate or waive the registration fee altogether for unemployed individuals).

  • Hire a tutor to help you refine your second language skills or learn the in-demand software to update your computer skills.

  • Check out the local Career Center to determine what relevant workshops they offer.

  • Determine if you are eligible for “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act” (WIOA) funding for skills training through the Career Center for laid off workers

  • Regularly review events calendars for the Chambers of Commerce and local community organizations to see what they might be featuring for training.

Stay in touch with professionals in the fields you have targeted. They are the best source of current and accurate information about the skills and competencies needed to get the job done and, therefore, which ones to focus on in networking and during a job interview.