Thursday, September 3, 2009

How Will You Answer the Interviewer’s Question: What Else Have You Done Since You Left Your Last Job?

In today’s job market, many job seekers are on the job market for months, not weeks; some are even on the job market for years. What will you answer when the interviewer asks you “what else have you done since you left your last job?”

“What else?”, you ask yourself. “Isn’t finding a job enough”? The answer is actually no. Even though hunting for a job should be a fulltime job, it is not the only activity a good job seeker should be doing.

Your first and primary responsibility, of course, is looking for job leads by networking. Just like when you were employed though, your primary responsibility was not your only activity. You also took classes to improve your skills, you participated in community activities, and you did “all other duties as assigned”.

Let’s look at the other activities you should include in your schedule while you are in a career transition.

Increase Your Marketable Skills

While you are between jobs, you are not using on a daily basis the skills that make you marketable. In most industries the required skills change: there are new technologies, new approaches, and new concepts. So not only are your skills starting to atrophy because you are not using them but unless you are intentionally staying on top of the new trends and skills in your industry, you are falling behind.

• To stay on top on your game, identify the skills you need to be competitive.

• Read everything you can to stay on top of the trends and changes in your industry.

• Take classes or self study. There are numerous free courses on-line. Also check out the options available through the Department of Labor.

• Participate in webinars (seminars held via the web). Many are free. Check with vendors of the technology you use in your industry for a schedule of upcoming webinars.

• Offer to intern for free at one of your target companies in exchange for the experience. There are sites that help coordinate intern opportunities especially for recent graduates and for more experienced (older) job seekers.

Volunteer / Assist Others

There are numerous benefits of volunteering during your job transition.

• You will feel a sense of accomplishment which will help heighten your good attitude

• You will help others; there is nothing like being a hero even in a small way

• You will expand your network of contacts

• You may develop new skills or exercise the skills you have not used in a while

Improve Yourself

A good attitude is the most important step in a successful job search. Your confidence will increase as you make self improvements

• Lose weight

• Increase your strength

• Develop new interpersonal skills

• Address that bad habit you waited to address

Establish and Meet Other Goals

At work you had a set of goals and a daily schedule. During a job search, a management / company imposed schedule does not exist. It is easy to let time fly by without getting a lot done and this usually has a negative impact on that good attitude.

Instead set your own goals and make a daily plan to reach those goals. End each day with a sense of accomplishment.

Increase Your Network

Networking is the best way to find the hidden job market and to land an interview. Increase your network. Go to events and industry meetings you have not been to before. When you go to a network event, do not just talk to the people you already know. Give yourself an assignment of meeting a specific number of new contacts; meet them and then follow-up with them after the event. Remember to ask them how you can help them and then follow through.

Maintain Your Marketing Materials

As you increase your marketable skills, add that to your inventory of skills, abilities, training, and accomplishments. These inventories should be maintained the rest of your working life (if not beyond). Some of these items will go onto your resume; others will be used to help answer interview questions. All of the inventories will remind you how valuable you are.

These are the same activities you should continue when you land that next job since your next job will not be your last. (Read articles "The Truth You Need to Know but May Not Want to Hear" and “Job Seekers: Action Items Once You are Employed” on

Be ready for the question about what else you have been doing while you are in a job transition by getting out and doing it now. The only time it is too late to start is when you are asked that question and do not have a good response.


  1. Hi Judi,

    Really a useful and reality-based article. While one is unemplyed, (s)he need to involve herself/himself in self-improvement which is a never-ending process. There are lot of things to learn. So, its essential to do it if one need to stay ahead in the race.

    Thanks for the wonderful article!

    Kind regards,

  2. A Well written article with doable activities. Im sure a well planned schedule will support to high achievements & success!