You’ve just graduated from college but couldn’t find a job or internship in advance — so you are moving back in with your parents. Can you take some time off before restarting your job search?

No, says Eilene Zimmerman, in the “Career Couch” column for the New York Times.   Taking time off will be hard to explain in an interview and can make you less employable.  The current bad job market may allow grads to think they have a free pass to take it easy for a while, but they don’t.

The best way to use the time between graduation and employment is to focus on learning about your industry and developing skills you need for employment. This is also a good time to build your network. Use your college’s alumni office to find professionals in your industry, or do some virtual networking through a social media campaign. “Create a LinkedIn profile, because recruiters use that as a primary way of sourcing candidates,” says Katharine Brooks, director of liberal arts career services at the University of Texas, Austin, and author of “You Majored in What?”  Twitter and Facebook enable you to have conversations with people in your field. “Use Twitter to begin to establish yourself as someone who is knowledgeable about your industry,” Ms. Brooks says. “Start tweeting about articles of interest in your field and the latest research findings.”

Talk to people in the industry and read job ads to learn what employers are looking for, Ms. Brooks suggests, then determine what you can do to get the necessary skills and experience. If you know you need more customer-service experience, for example, you might volunteer to answer phones at a charitable organization or try to get a job at a call center, she says.

Volunteer work is another option, but choose work that enhances your résumé, says Dan Black, America’s director of campus recruiting for the professional services firm Ernst & Young in New York. “Find ways of using your degree to help the organization — it might be marketing, finance or event planning.” Don’t just look at established charities; find some small local businesses and offer to volunteer, while learning at the same time.

Click here for the entire column.