By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

There are lots of creative ways to build your resume while you look for your next executive position. Take a look at some of the options below to see how you might build additional experiences and skills into your resume – they’re sure to help your search!

Lead (or join) a local professional organization

There are inevitably a plethora of professional organizations close to home. For example, if you are in marketing, you might find a local chapter of the American Marketing Association that you can join. To get the experience that will help position you as a leader ready to take on another executive challenge, consider as much active participation as you possibly can! Over time, as you begin to establish your local network within your field of expertise, you might consider taking the additional step of acquiring leadership responsibilities. This will, of course, be an excellent addition to your resume as you demonstrate that you are proactive and dedicated to your own professional development, and the advancement of your industry.

When you have a short list of organizations you’re considering, take a look at their web site to see if there are opportunities to take on more responsibility. A personal touch will help you stand out from your colleagues and competition: reach out to someone on staff and offer to help – after all, they may really need a smart, enthusiastic professional to help them!

Join a nonprofit board

For many executives, finding a cause they’re passionate about is a great window to additional professional opportunities that they wouldn’t see in their day job. In this case, and when taking time to find your next career move, nonprofit boards can be a great way to exercise your skills, and add value to a meaningful organization.

Start with identifying the causes you’re most passionate about (you’ll be more effective if you’re truly invested in the work and the organizations success), and finding organizations that work to support those causes. From there, networking into an organization or just reaching out to see how you can help will both put you in a position to connect and learn more about serving a nonprofit by joining their board.

For a comprehensive index of Nonprofit corporations, Guidestar.org is an excellent online resource to identify potential opportunities within your area. The information offered through Guidestar is a great foundation for additional research as you begin to consider your next steps.

Write expert articles and contribute to the ongoing conversation within your industry

Connecting with web sites and publications that are seeking expert or opinion pieces from professionals can be a great way to add content to your resume while keeping your skills sharp. Consider well-known social media platforms, professional blogs, and forums as “Campfires”. Surround yourself with other professionals and join the wider, often global, conversation that discusses contemporary issues. Make your contribution! Broader issues can be overcome as participants offer a huge variety of different perspectives and imaginative solutions.

If there are professional topics you’re passionate about, draft a few pieces that you can use as pitch material based on those topics. In addition, you can consider reaching out to the editors or PR team at professional publications and see if they’re accepting work from new writers. When your piece is published, be sure to include it when you’re sending materials to potential employers – it’s a great way to show your point-of-view and writing skills before you even meet.

The benefits of contribution and publication are extremely multifaceted. During the interview process, your involvement in the wider professional community will demonstrate your contemporary knowledge, and s proactive finger-on-the-pulse mentality. Furthermore, publications and conversations will inevitably build your professional network, and take you places you may not have initially considered.

Become a mentor

Looking for your next opportunity can be a great reminder of where you’ve been in your career, and how far you’ve come since starting out. One other great way to build your resume while you’re on the hunt is to offer your wisdom and knowledge to someone who could benefit from a professional mentor.

Most cities have mentorship programs to help executives connect with young professionals and recent graduates. You could also let your network know that you’re looking to become a mentor: networking is an easy and effective way to find individuals interested in mentorship.

When you’re looking for your next executive position, you have the chance to build your resume doing productive and interesting activities outside of your routine. Get ready to contribute! Making a difference in industry, or to the lives of younger professionals, will pay dividends as you navigate your applications and ensure career success.

I wish you prosperity and success as you take your first confident steps into 2015. Have a great year! For more information, coaching, and advice, please contact Linda at [email protected].

Let’s get to work!