Job Seekers and career changers often ask how they can remain relevant and demonstrate to the marketplace that their skills are current, their energy level is high and their value is significant, despite being in transition or not currently employed. The media is full of advice on "TO DOs" so I'd like to give you some suggested "TO DON'Ts".
Don't be defensive or make excuses about your situation. Simply be prepared with a short, accurate statement about why you are between positions or making a change. It was a great run: you made a significant contribution, learned a lot and now it's time to move forward.
Don't focus on the past. Enthusiastically articulate your desire and plan to move forward to assume new responsibilities, change careers, etc. You have transferable skills and proven achievements.
Don't badmouth your former employer. This is inappropriate, unprofessional and personally detrimental on so many levels and it can seriously impede your career moves.
Don't be a downer. Be positive in your terminology, be upbeat in your tone and be engaging in your manner in both social and professional interactions. Your positive attitude will be contagious and will make you a more attractive candidate.
Don't waste your time during transition. Network, network, network. Take a business related course. Learn a new language. Get a relevant certification. Learn how to more effectively use social media and online tools. Seek out speaking engagements in your area of expertise at local libraries, universities, associations, etc. to enhance your visibility. Mentor someone.
Don't cocoon. Get out there. Interact with people. Pick up the phone instead of staring at your computer screen or emailing. Meet personally with contacts for chats. Consider creating a personal advisory board of a few trusted associates to keep your motivation up and get suggestions.
Don't let the time pass without some structure. Establish and maintain a daily calendar of activities, goals and success measures just as you did when employed. Being able to remain focused and productive is a key element in an effective transition.
Remaining relevant and visible is fundamental to career success, and taking advantage of found time to ensure that your skills remain strong and your value remains apparent simply makes sense. So, create your list of "TO DON'Ts" and get to work making them happen... or more accurately in this case... making them not happen.