Over the years, I’ve spoken one-on-one with hundreds of people who have lost jobs. While some find new employment quickly, many others do not. It is this latter group that starts to ask themselves, “Will anyone want to hire me again?” Self doubt starts to set in and expectations lower, sometimes drastically from what they previously had been looking for. This week, I’d like to offer some encouragement, as well as some warnings that hopefully will help you get back to work quicker.
First off, you will work again. I know that is hard for some people reading this to believe, but if you truly want to, you will.
Are you un-hirable? I highly doubt it. You’ve been hired before, and I’m guessing that most people reading this have had relatively good success in their careers. But the next job could, and possibly should, look different than the previous one. However, being unwilling to change your mindset or alter your job search strategy could lengthen the unemployment. Below are four main characteristics I have noticed by job seekers who remain unemployed for long periods of time.
1) Stuck in the past. Remaining bitter or depressed about why you lost your last job won’t help. Whether it was fair or not, it is now history. While turning the page and moving forward can be difficult, it is critical. Organizations want to hire people who exude a positive attitude. You’ll have to explain your reason for change, and you must be able to do it in a manner that doesn’t scare off future employers. They won’t hire you on pity, but they might hire you on potential, so it is important to use every bit of the interview demonstrating what you can do for them going forward. Learn from your past, but don’t dwell in it.
2) Isolation. Are you avoiding people? I’ve written many times that the hardest way to get a job is solely answering want ads. Applying online is easy to do and difficult to succeed at. It is vital for your search and state of mind to get out of the house on a regular basis and network with others to find the best opportunities.
3) Being inflexible. Sometimes people are just too narrow in their scope. Whether it is pay, location, starting temporary or contract, hours, title, etc, the truth is that the next job may not be just like the last one. I’m not suggesting that you should be desperate because that isn’t what employers want either. But the marketplace changes all the time, and possibly that was what led to your last position ending in the first place. Much like selling a house, if it has been on the market for awhile and you need to sell, you’ve got to explore other options.
4) Being unavailable. This one seems like an oxymoron, but I’m amazed at how often I meet folks who are supposedly looking for work but fall into this category. It usually starts with a simple “break” when they first lose their job. This isn’t all bad, but then next the job seeker gets distracted by other projects and responsibilities. I don’t dismiss the importance of yard work, fixing things around the house, taking care of children, vacations, etc. But these shouldn’t be communicated as barriers for interviewing or taking work when employers call. If finding work really is the priority, it is important to have a plan in advance for how these other tasks will be handled when opportunities come up so your interest level gets communicated properly to prospective employers.
Finding a job is a full-time job in itself. Hopefully these suggestions will help you stay on track and avoid pitfalls as you seek new employment.