If It’s Been Awhile Since You Worked

Posted by Pat Tovo

If it’s been several months since you were last gainfully employed, you may be losing momentum. Even with a low unemployment rate and a decreasing number of cleared professionals, there are skill sets that are less in demand, and that may have more supply than the market needs. If you’re in that boat, it may take you longer to land that next position. What do you do in the meantime?

Set Milestones

Out-of-work professionals must constantly and consistently evaluate their efforts. Set some milestones for yourself – three months, six months, a year – and at each timeframe ask yourself tough questions designed for honest evaluation. Don’t neglect gauging problems or roadblocks. Ask yourself questions like these:

  • Are hiring managers responding to my resume and applications?
  • Am I targeting appropriate companies and positions?
  • I got the first interview, why not a second one?
  • Several interviews seemed to go well but why didn’t I get the offer?
  • Do I need to change up my resume, my cover letter, my interviewing skills?

Stay Active

It’s easy to get depressed and a bit lazy when your job search lags, but it’s very important that you stay active. Not only to maintain a healthy attitude but to keep putting yourself out there. Check out the possibility of contract or consulting work. Get involved with a non-profit that you care about. Some organizations offer substantial volunteer opportunities that can build your skills.

When meeting with employers you don’t want the to appear as though you have no initiative. Many hiring manager will ask what you’ve been doing since your last job. If you can say “I developed a marketing plan for the Boys Club” or “I’ve been consulting with my church  on their computer security programs”  or “I’ve been working on my PMP certification” that demonstrates that you’re motivated and industrious. Don’t forget to put interim work on your resume, your LinkedIn profile, or in your cover letter, even if it’s a volunteer position. It demonstrates initiative.

Brag a Bit

It doesn’t hurt to talk about other opportunities you have or jobs you almost had. Just frame it correctly. Recruiters like candidates who are in demand so if they ask if you have anything going on, tell them if you do. Be honest….because little fibs can come back to haunt you. If you received an offer and didn’t accept because it would have meant an out-of-state move, tell them. Or if during the interview process you realized a position was not a good fit so you bowed out, it’s okay to say so.

Being Positive is Good, Being Desperate is Not

If called for an interview or even during a networking session you obviously should stay positive about your search. Just don’t give off a whiff of desperation. Focus on your skills, your experience, and your goals. Talk about the qualifications you will bring to an organization. Mention past success. Talk about the training you’ve done since your last position. Relay the involvement you’ve had in professional associations. Avoid falling into “I’ll take anything” mode because that isn’t attractive to anyone, especially hiring managers.

Re-evaluate Your Options

When you begin a job search, being selective about opportunities and options is natural, but if you’ve been out of work for a while, maybe it’s time to refocus. Ask yourself if you’re ready to expand or redirect your efforts. Instead of focusing on job titles, look at your strengths and skills to consider if they could be applied to a different job category. If you have only been looking at large corporations, reassess whether a small business could meet your career goals. Make a list of what you want in a job then under each item create a sub-list of more creative ways you could expand your search to land a position with those qualities.

Searching for a new cleared job can be exhilarating, exhausting, time consuming, frustrating, enlightening…on and on, up and down. The time will come when you must decide if you want to hold out for something you think would be the “perfect” cleared job, or if almost good enough could be just the right new opportunity.

Pat Tovo guides job seekers in conducting successful employment searches through targeted prospecting, effective resume writing, and polished interviewing skills. She enjoys facilitating workshops and working one-on-one in career counseling.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 11:16 am

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