Most of us have had the [not so] pleasurable experience of searching for a new job for various reasons (promotion, relocation, new challenge, etc). However, in today’s world, many of us have to go through this search while unemployed.
It is a very nerve wracking and stressful experience, made even worse by the long hours of free time, or seeing our peers succeed in their own jobs. Drawn from my own experience, I have listed out the top 4 things I’ve learned while unemployed and how they can help you move closer to your new role.
1. Create meaningful relationships with your headhunters: This should be a no brainer but we all know that you’re more likely to get a job via a headhunter than you are by submitting your application into the blackhole of resumes known as job search sites. Working with a headhunter can be like working with a real estate agent. Before seeing anything you have a discussion about what you’re looking for, what you want and probably most important, what you don’t want. In a similar fashion your headhunter should pay close attention to your strengths and weaknesses, noting what you are looking for not just in a role but in a company environment. Be very honest and direct with your headhunter because you want him/her to send your resume through to companies that are a good fit. If you lie or embellish, you are more likely to get sent to a place that doesn’t fit your personality or skill set. If your headhunter sends you a job you don’t feel is a good fit or you’re uninterested, tell him/her-be honest and upfront so not to waste anyone’s time. However, at the end of the day be patient and polite. This person is working with multiple candidates and has a job to do which is to fill a position. Always be grateful, even if a position doesn’t work out in your favor. This is a person you will want to call on in the future.
2, Mange your free time wisely: Now that you’re home you most likely have a lot of free time. While you should definitely enjoy your time off, be sure to not let yourself get too comfortable. For example, everyday I wake up before 8am, workout, and get dressed as if I’m leaving the house. This helps me establish a routine and prevents me from sleeping in or getting to comfortable in my new situation-remember, this new lifestyle is temporary. Also, make sure you stay current with your market or industry. I was in an interview recently where the HR rep asked me what I was doing with my free time. It was nice to be able to tell her that on top of regular volunteer work (that’s my own passion), I spent a lot of time reading up on the market. I made sure to tell her it was important for me to stay relevant and competitive among my peers.
3. Network, Network, Network: I cannot stress enough the importance of networking. it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), that maintaining a solid network of peers and colleagues is your ticket to a new job. Meet up with coworkers from previous jobs. Never ask outright for a job (it comes off as thoughtless and a bit rude), but plant the seed. Let them know what you’re looking for and if they could let you know of any opportunities that match your criteria. Expanding your network is also a good way to hear of new opportunities. For example, when I had an interest in startups I connected via linkedin with a few marketing managers who worked for startups.A good way to break the ice is to let them know you’re interested in their field and ask what skills you should improve upon to enter that field. No matter which way you approach it, always keep the lines of communication open and always return the favor.
4. Don’t let other people get you down: If you stay unemployed for quite some time people will start to pick at you. You will hear comments like, “It must be so nice to have all this free time” and “Wow I wish I could sleep in till 10”, People don’t understand that you don’t see this as a vacation and that it is actually very stressful especially if you have financial burdens like rent or a mortgage. Just keep your head up knowing you are doing everything in your power to secure a new job.