As soon as you lose your job, you’re on the clock. The job market is a cruel mistress. The more time you spend unemployed, the harder it is to get a job, as companies look at that lost time as a reason not to hire a new staff member.
Clearly that’s not really fair. Sometimes it’s simply hard to find employment. A few bad job interviews, a tough employment rate for people in your field, and a long and deserved vacation can all affect how quickly you find a job. Yet that time, according to most employers, is a mark against your abilities.
So what can you do? You need to give the employers a reason for your absence from work. Make it look as though you could easily have been employed at any time, but chose not to be. In essence, you basically need to prove that even though you were not working, you were still improving your professional career.
I Know What You Did Last Unemployment
All of the ideas listed below are designed to give you a plausible and real “excuse” for what you did while you were unemployed. The excuse is not designed to be a lie. Meaning, if you volunteered only one day total during the 3 years you were unemployed, you cannot say you volunteered. There is evidence that you did not. However, if you work on these over the course of your unemployment and take them seriously as a way to occupy your time, employers will generally be satisfied with the time you spent away from the corporate life.
- Volunteer – Number one, of course, is volunteering. It’s not hard to find a place to volunteer, and volunteering can be a good networking opportunity. This is absolutely something you should consider. Volunteering is also a fulfilling way to spend time as you wait for the job market to improve.
- Internships or Temp Work – It’s easier to find part time/unpaid work than it is to find a full time, long term job. You can sign up with a temp agency or apply to internships and work on those as you look for a real job. They look great on your resume and by all accounts it appears you are working.
- Consulting/Freelancing – Need some money? Want to make it look like you have been working throughout your unemployment? Why not rent out your services via consulting or freelancing. There are a number of places to find short term, variable paying projects that will earn you some money and give you the appearance of being an entrepreneur.
- Go Back To School – Continuing education is just like work experience. Employers love to see that you are taking classes and improving your skills. Some employers may even see it as more of a benefit than working, depending on the skills you pick up. It should be related to your field, but if you like the field that shouldn’t be a problem anyway.
Overall, it is not as though there are a lot of things you can do, and you probably have considered many of the choices above. Yet they do represent a remarkable opportunity for you, and all of the above activities may eventually help you find employment in ways you could not do previously, via education and networking.
Skills Based Resume
Finally, if you have spent an extensive period of time away from work, consider using a skills based resume instead of a chronological resume. Skills based resumes allow you to sort of “fudge” your time off so that it doesn’t look like you had a long absence. It’s not the greatest plan, but it should make it a little easier to at least get to the job interview portion (so it won’t look like there are gaping holes in your resume) and if you present a likeable personality, employers may let the absence slide.
Take Away Tips
- Do things
- Do things like volunteer, intern, freelance and learn.