Career

5 Things to Do In Your Free Time That Can Help You in Your Career

career

Joanne Poh

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Doing well in your career isn’t exactly the same as doing good work. While you will get nowhere if your work just flat-out sucks (unless you are really good at massaging your boss’s ego), it is totally possible to consistently produce good work but go unnoticed and unacknowledged.

Part of succeeding at work is about getting your boss to acknowledge you, claiming credit for your good work and learning how to avoid the poison darts shot by the office gossip.

But another part is what you do outside of work, even if these activities aren’t directly related to your bread-and-butter. Here are five things that can help you in your career.

 

1. Updating your LinkedIn account

Headhunters looking for candidates to fill job positions are now very likely to turn to LinkedIn. This means that unless you are some superstar with your own Wikipedia page, you’d better get on LinkedIn if you don’t want to miss out on career opportunities.

Make sure your LinkedIn account is filled out to the best of your ability, and upload a decent photo that is appropriate for your profession. Before being offered a job, potential employers are very, very likely to google you, and your social media accounts including LinkedIn are usually the first to pop up.

 

2. Maintaining a personal blog

Gone are the days when blogs were an online space for people to rant about their teachers/bosses or leave cryptic messages about lost love. These days, personal blogs and websites are an effective way to market yourself and advance your personal brand, however mercenary that might sound.

Maintaining a personal blog can, when done right, raise your profile in your industry and show off expertise in your domain. For instance, anyone in the creative industries can benefit from maintaining an online portfolio and crafting a voice which fits their vision. But even those in technical fields or the professions can benefit from cross-posting blog articles on other platforms like LinkedIn or Inc.

 

3. Curating your social media accounts

Thanks to Facebook’s “follow” functions, complete strangers can now keep track of your activities on the platform even if you aren’t friends with them. Instagram is another platform that attracts stalkers, admirers and people you could potentially work with.

Someone who’s talented at curating their social media accounts has an advantage as they have access to hundreds of people’s news feeds. This rarely means posting photos of your wild nights out unless you’re looking for a job as a Tiger Beer promoter or Thai disco singer.

On the other hand, if you don’t want your personal social media accounts to become a conduit for your personal brand, then make sure your privacy settings restrict viewers who aren’t part of your network.

 

4. Your personal projects

What we do in our free time has more potential than ever to bleed into what we do for a living. Don’t think those personal projects you’re working on in your down-time are useless.

In a best case scenario, they could be directed related to your career and boost your portfolio, as in the case of the programmer who writes his own applications in his spare time.

But even in a worst case scenario, where a project has nothing to do with your work, it can speak volumes about your character and raise your public profile, getting you noticed by potential employers or collaborators.

For instance, let’s say you’re a closet origami artist and organise origami meetups and workshops in your spare time. It may have nothing to do with your job as an accountant, but could help potential employers see you as a team player with initiative and leadership potential.

 

5. Volunteer work

Giving back to society can benefit you greatly as a human being. Not only do you feel more connected to society and less entitled, you also get to meet people from all walks of life and—directly or indirectly—develop skills that will help you in your career, or open the doors to a side gig or career switch.

For instance, if you help out at donation drives for the SPCA, you might learn a thing or two about event organisation, logistics and marketing. Volunteering at a local museum is a great option for those who are interested in careers in research, academia or even tour guiding (yes, you can earn a decent amount as a licensed tour guide in Singapore).

What’s more, any activity that helps you meet new people can be a useful source of contacts. When you volunteer, you meet people who are, well, nicer than the average stone-faced Singaporean, people who’ll be happy to help you out if they have some career lobang.

Do you do any of the above in your free time? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.