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Not a day goes by since the launch of Interviewing.com that I do not receive an email, message, call, mention in passing, or engage in a conversation with others regarding hope for the unemployed who are trying to find work.

Whether job seekers are fresh out of school or victims of a layoff, every call or email they receive from a recruiter or hiring manager asking them for an interview is a new chance to prove themselves.  And every interview brings with it the hope that they can soon rid themselves of the title, “unemployed.”

As Henry Ford once stated, “The word ‘unemployment’ has become one of the most dreadful words in the language.”  It’s seems to ring true for many hiring organizations.  It’s a dirty word, spoken as if a candidate were deceased or covered in an unpleasant substance as opposed to merely out of work.

Much of this disdain or uncertainty is led from old stereotypes of workers looking for handouts or from times of economic prosperity when those who were out of work either chose to be, were under-performers, or were ill-suited to their career paths.

But the view of recruiters and hiring managers isn’t that much different from the perspective of some of the unemployed.  When you are looked at like a second class citizen in the selection process, seemingly barred from obtaining suitable employment, or with one strike already against you before you even step foot in an interview, sometimes a skewed view of the individuals keeping you from your goals can develop.

Perhaps it’s time that both sides of the table do their part in changing their perceptions.  But to do that, it starts with job seekers and the hiring community both taking action.

As members of the recruitment community (and why limit it to just the recruitment community–really everyone) we can have a little more empathy.  It doesn’t take much effort to go out of your way to offer advice, encouragement, a little coaching, or an opportunity at a chance to someone.  And that’s really what most job seekers want, is just a chance to prove themselves and show their worth.  After all, you never know when you might be in their shoes some day (if you haven’t already been.)

But job seekers, when you are offered that chance, take it, don’t waste it–don’t feed into the stereotypes already holding you back.  You don’t know when the next opportunity will knock.  And even if you don’t land that job, you might miss out on valuable lessons from not making the most of your experience.  Realize that you are the only obstacle in your way, and if the opportunities aren’t presenting themselves, you have to work harder to create opportunities.

For those of you in the throes of your job search who still need a boost, here’s a quick rundown of tips to help you land your next opportunity:

Job Search Tips

  • Stay motivated – Always sounds easier said than done, but whatever you do, don’t give up.  Every day is a new day with new possibilities.  Do whatever it takes to stay in the game.
  • Look at the job search as your new job – dedicate a meaningful amount of time each day to your job search.  Treat it like work.  Strategize, create goals, action plans, and follow through.  Adapt and change when necessary.
  • Be open to change –  If something is not working, take a new approach.  Look at new paths and possibilities.  Now’s the time you have to explore, whether it’s following passions or a new career path–don’t limit yourself by being stuck in a niche.  Also, consider if you’re willing to relocate for a job.  Sometimes a fresh start could be the  positive change you didn’t know you needed.
  • Step down if needed – It may be time to stop looking at the position you had as a goal, and look at what is achievable.  Look on the bright side, if you take a job below your skill set, you have lots of room to prove your worth and grow.
  • Utilize all resources available to you: Sure you say you’ve covering all routes, but are you continually reaching out to your network? (They do forget about you after a while and may need an update that you’re still looking.) Don’t be afraid to use state and local employment centers or career centers, reach out to staffing firms, or get social with networking events or online with organizations like JobAngels, or tweeting with #HireFriday.

Resume Tips

  • Don’t exaggerate dates of unemployment – You might think you’re making yourself look better by minimizing the gap in your resume, but honesty is key.  You don’t want to secure a position only to have an employer change their mind because they found out you lied when they verified your employment.
  • Change it up –  Don’t be afraid to change the format of your resume to highlight the positives and move the focus away from your gap in work history.
  • Celebrate your wins! – Many talented people have what’s considered an unimpressive employment history.  Make yourself stand out by taking credit for your accomplishments and achievements, even if they were through volunteer work.  Quantify your success!
  • Personalize your Cover letter – Make sure you are customizing your cover letter for each job posting and making it personal.  Speak directly to how you can address their needs with your skills and experience.

Interview Tips

  • Don’t focus on your unemployment – Keep the focus away from why you’re unemployed or from making excuses and put the focus on what you’ve been able to accomplish during this time.
  • Be self-aware – Keep your nerves, fears, and anxiety in check.  Job hunting is stressful, don’t let that stress come across in the interview.
  • Stop poor interviewing – If you have been getting called to interview, but never get the call back with an offer, it’s probably something you’re doing.  As above, understand what non-verbal cues you may be signaling in the interview.  Try practicing mock interviews (and record them on video if you can) with friends or volunteers who are willing to give you honest feedback.  And be open to constructive criticism.
  • Change your perspective -You may have been used to being recruited for positions in the past, walking into interviews with a chip on your shoulder or being sold to by the company.  It’s a new job market, it’s time to sell yourself.  Be assertive.  Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes and understand what they’re looking for and deliver on it.

Personal Tips

  • Build your personal brand – Make sure people know who you are and what you stand for.  Build up your social networks and display your expertise on all outlets available to you.
  • Don’t stop working – Just because you don’t have a job, doesn’t mean you’re out of work.  Want some inspiration?  Find and read the piece by Henry Ford in which I referenced the quote from earlier (source below.) Be a go to person, volunteer, stay active.
  • Reinvent yourself –  Don’t get stuck on who you were when you were previously employed.  Try new things, take classes, and do things you never thought you would.  The more you challenge yourself, the more you open yourself up to new chances and opportunities.
  • Address your personal issues first – The stress of finding a job is hard enough, if you’ve been out of work awhile, the stress of things like paying bills, childcare, or managing expectations can add even more burdens on you.  You’re not going to be your best weighed down by anxiety.  Sit down with the people in your life, develop an action plan for how they can support you during this time and what you’re going to do to address your issues so you can focus clearly on your job search.  Share your concerns so you can find solutions rather than build a mountain of problems.
  • Rise above your emotions – Start each day being the most positive, radiating force of energy you can.  It will be hard, but that positive energy can attract opportunity.  You will be surprised how people you come in contact with will feel compelled to help you because of the positive attraction.
  • Don’t make it entirely about you – Yes, you need a job, but what can you do for others.  You’re more likely to get people to help you if you are offering something in return (or offering something with no expectations in return.) Don’t be a mooch. Think of it as good Karma.  See how you can help others first and you will get back what you give ten-fold. Small actions now can reap big rewards later and you may never know where the rewards came from.

With that last tip in mind, what can you do today to help someone get their foot in the door to land a new opportunity?  How can you help set someone up for success in their next job interview and give them hope for a chance to prove their worth?  Can you offer a few words of encouragement or an introduction to your network?  Are you able to share your own experiences or volunteer your time?  Will you share this post with others who need support?

If you have more tips, services, words of encouragement, coaching, your own experience to share from your job search, or anything else to help, I encourage you to add your input in the comments below.  Let’s all do our part to change perspectives, shift gears, and make a difference.

Source:

Ford, Henry. “On Unemployment.” Literary Digest (11–18 June 1932).

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