“A recent review of job vacancy postings on popular sites like Monster.com, CareerBuilder and Craigslist revealed hundreds that said employers would consider (or at least “strongly prefer”) only people currently employed or just recently laid off.” (“Help Wanted Sign Comes with a Frustrating Asterisk,” The New York Times, July 25, 2011)
As you can see from this quote from the New York Times, many employers are biased against people who are unemployed, especially people who are unemployed for long periods of time. And being unemployed can be problematic even with people you that know. Often colleagues, family, and friends don’t know what to say or do when they are around people who are unemployed. Talking about work can be awkward, and if your job search has stalled, they may not know what to say about your job search either.
Here is some advice for dealing with some common issues as they relate to employers, colleagues, family, and friends when you find yourself out of work.
Problem—They’re busy, and even though they might want to help you, if they don’t immediately know of an opening, they may not stay in touch.
Solution—Stay in contact with them in a non-threatening, non-intrusive way. Share articles relevant to your field. Ask them for recommendations on LinkedIn. Let them know about upcoming seminars or professional association meetings that they might be interested in. These are ways that you can keep your name in front of people who know you professionally without becoming annoying. When something does become available that your colleagues hear about, you will be top of mind.
Problem–They don’t know how to help you. They may try to be too helpful by giving you suggestions that don’t work and asking endlessly if you’ve found a job yet.
Solution—Tell them what type of help you need. Ask for their support, and spell out for them what that support looks like for you. Support may mean that your family members wait for you to give them a weekly update instead of asking you every day if you have found a job yet. Or it may mean an occasional pep talk when the job search is getting you down. Whatever the case, it helps to talk things through so that you and your family are in the job search together.
Problem—Your friends don’t know what would be most helpful.
Solution—Help them help you. Instead of burning them out by sharing your woes with them all the time, give them specific steps to take to help you. For example, email them your resume and let them know exactly what you are looking for. You can also give them a list of the specific companies that you are targeting in your job search and ask them if they know anyone who works at any of those companies. And if the companies that your friends work for hire people with your skill set, have them look out for job openings and refer you. Many companies give cash incentives to employees who refer candidates that are subsequently hired.
Problem—Employers think your skills are outdated and that you must not be the cream of the crop if you are unemployed.
Solution— Perform contract, temporary, or volunteer work. Doing this will help you fill in the gap on your resume, and it has the added benefit of keeping your skills fresh. Also, because you are in a work environment, you are more likely to hear about openings when they occur, and companies are more likely to hire you since they already know you and your work ethic. Also, continue networking so that you are a known entity.
To jumpstart your job search and start generating interviews, call 877-743-9521 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in contact with a career coach.