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Instead of merely changing jobs and hoping for the best, consider taking a step sideways.

Think outside the box. Create your own unique career path.

Find fulfilling work by adapting your role to incorporate your talents. Or go ahead and pick up some wildly different skills that will impress the headhunters and interviewers.

For instance, if you’re down on your luck and can’t get your ideal job right now, why not try doing something completely different? Strangely, it might put you back on course and even place you ahead of the pack at your next interview.

Make your own alternative job experience. It might be the change your career has needed Want To Switch Jobs? 5 Tools That Help You Reinvent A New Career Want To Switch Jobs? 5 Tools That Help You Reinvent A New Career Finding the right career is easier with online tools and career counselors. But to truly understand your dream job, you need to dive deeper and decide for yourself if that job fits you. Read More .

Freelancing

These days it’s so easy to start freelancing. Start a blog and put up a portfolio of your work The Best Website Builders to Create a Clean Online Portfolio The Best Website Builders to Create a Clean Online Portfolio Having an online portfolio is critical for today's digital worker. Which free website builder is best for your portfolio? We help you pick out the suitable one from the ten contenders. Read More , then write a clear, copy written page designed to entice your clients to hire you.

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Whatever you’re looking to do, be sure to add to your portfolio 5 Ways To Use Your Blog As Your Online Work Portfolio 5 Ways To Use Your Blog As Your Online Work Portfolio Sure, you could go out and get a fancy website with all sorts of zip-zaps and ding-dongs that supposedly would wow your potential clients. But then again, you don't have to. What if you just... Read More some specific examples that prove you can do exactly what you’re applying for. Do this just before approaching every new client, whether you do so directly or via a freelance job board.

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For example:

Start a Business

Often starting a business is the logical extension of a successful freelancing career. You might simply hire people to do the work you’ve been doing up to now.

But there are other ways to start a business quickly:

  • Develop an app.
  • Resell something useful.
  • Create an information product.
  • Sell crafts; or any other creative product.

It might seem off-the-beaten-track, but the skills you’ll pick up being a small business owner 6 Soft Skills Every Technology Worker Needs For Career Success 6 Soft Skills Every Technology Worker Needs For Career Success Some special skills are lacking in the IT field. For career success, you need the right attitude. Here are six important soft skills that'll get you noticed at your next IT job interview. Read More will be useful in the future, and employers know this.

Digital Internship

Many industries rely on internships to prove the mettle of graduates before they’re hired in the “real world”. If you missed out on one, you may be surprised to note that it’s now possible to undertake digital internships.

Marketplace-Internships

Match your skills on virtual internship sites:

  • Check out Coursolve to see if there’s something available in your industry.
  • Internships.com curates 121,574 internship positions from 84,188 companies in the U.S. Many are virtual positions.
  • The Indian internship company LetsIntern.com has 8000 companies on its network.
  • Browse through the online intern jobs available through LinkedIn.com.

It might well be the alternative career path that not only gives you an insight into an industry, but also a breakthrough.

Volunteering for Nonprofits

Volunteering your professional services is a sure way to demonstrate your knowledge to the next employer you encounter. It is also a surefire route to network your way to better opportunities.

Watch Tuan Nguyen speak about the benefits of volunteerism.

If you’re a web developer, just check out the websites of any non-profit organization you feel comfortable working with. If their website sucks, offer to make them a new one. And voila, here’s your portfolio creation underway.

Tutoring/Coaching/Consulting

Coach

It might not be your dream job, but tutoring people who are still studying in your field is a clear way to demonstrate competence yourself. This could be extended to include all forms of teaching, such as teaching online Want to Teach? 4 Ways To Share Your Knowledge & Experience Online Want to Teach? 4 Ways To Share Your Knowledge & Experience Online Teaching is an important process in learning. It is no longer the preserve of academics and schoolteachers. Anyone can become a teacher. Here’s how. Read More , coaching private learners or consulting to private firms.

Take this route and it might even become a business for you. Check out how you can volunteer to teach coding or learn how you can get started teaching online How to Teach a Language Online & Boost Your Skills How to Teach a Language Online & Boost Your Skills Online language learning is very popular, and if you're interested in teaching, you can take advantage and easily boost your skills and earn some extra money too. Read More .

Here are a few teaching platforms you can look into. There are many more.

Demonstrate Your Competence

Whitson Gordon, who is editor of Lifehacker, tells an interesting story of how he got his break at the blog. What did he do? Well, he studied the articles on the blog, then went and started a blog purely to showcase the fact that he could write articles just like that. And guess what? He got hired. It’s that simple.

There are lesser-known stories in this same vein. I’ve heard of reporters getting their break because they just went out and recorded some interviews on their own phone. Don’t worry about your equipment and your experience. If you think you can do it, just go do it.

Create Something Awesome

Do you know how Felicia Day got her big break? Well, she had a notable role on Buffy, but that wasn’t what really did it. She was trying to get her big break as a producer with no success, so she went and made The Guild instead and let the Internet watch it anyway. She soon got noticed and now has all sorts of opportunities come up.

As she said in an interview about her Internet geekdom.

I was a huge fan of video games; I wanted to write something, and I saw the tools at my fingertips to upload a video to my audience, and that’s why I’m here today.

For some reason, she still loves catering for an Internet-based audience to this day. Maybe because we stop and pay attention when someone is AWESOME.

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Do Something Completely Different

It might seem weird, but doing something really off-the-wall different could actually benefit you. Try these examples.

So, you’re fresh out of university and can’t get a job as an anthropologist? Go on a working or a learning holiday How to Take a Break with a Learning Vacation This Year How to Take a Break with a Learning Vacation This Year We work so hard. We owe it to ourselves to make sure those vacations are spent extremely well. Learning vacations are an excellent way of doing just that. Read More abroad doing just about anything. When you return you’ll have hands on experience working with different cultures.

If you majored in English How To Turn A Liberal Arts Degree Into A Great Tech Career How To Turn A Liberal Arts Degree Into A Great Tech Career If you're interested in technology, a Liberal Arts degree can be a great thing to have. The trick is to play to your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, and realize you are capable of contributing. Read More /Communications/Marketing and haven’t got a job yet, take on a position at the business of any of your favorite hobbies: rock-climbing gym, dance academy, cooking school etc. While you’re there getting paid to work the cash register, casually offer to help out with their blog or social media efforts.

Later that role goes on your resume and demonstrates your proactiveness. Meanwhile, you’re still getting paid and doing something related to what you love.

Better still, take an overseas vacation doing some memorable extreme sports, then see what professional services you can offer while you’re there. You can turn your free time into an adventure vacation How to Turn Your Next Vacation into an Adventure How to Turn Your Next Vacation into an Adventure Adventure is a state of mind. Take a few ideas from here when you want your vacation to be a compromise between new excitements and familiar relaxation. Read More easily. You never know — and you can bet future employers will remember the snowboarding web designer.

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What Alternative Career Path Have You Taken?

Did you ever drop off the beaten track for your chosen career? What did you do? Did it reboot your career Stranded In A Career Rut? 10 Ways To Reboot Your Work Focus Today Stranded In A Career Rut? 10 Ways To Reboot Your Work Focus Today The longer you feel like you're stuck in a career rut, the harder it can be to escape. Here are a few methods to bring focus, excitement and purpose back to your work-life. Read More in the long run? Did people think you were crazy? Tell us about it!

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