I recently posted a few lessons learned from over a year of unemployment. It’s easily the most viewed page I’ve ever posted. As promised, here are a few more observations! As always, your feedback is welcome at the bottom of this page.
Lend A Hand…Volunteer
I admit I don’t do this one myself. The upside to volunteering is tremendous. First, it gives you something to do for a few hours (or a couple days) each week. Next, volunteering your time brings good karma. Third, volunteering serves as a networking opportunity as many business people give back to their communities. Finally, the volunteering experience makes you a more attractive candidate with some employers.
Recruiters Are A Lot Like Psychologists
If your initial conversation with a recruiter isn’t a true two-way street, move along! You wouldn’t pick a psychologist who doesn’t listen to you and your needs, so don’t waste time with a recruiter who does the same. If he/she is more concerned about giving you a spiel than responding to anything you say, quickly cut your losses.
You Can Always Look Local
Many job seekers say hiring managers won’t hire those who outside their local market. I’m not confirming that theory, but am showing you how to work around it. Use Google Voice (now a part of Google Hangouts) to create a phone number in a distant area code. If you’re looking for a job in Nashville, TN, use Google Voice to create a phone number with a 615 area code. It’s easy! A Google account and an existing phone line are all you need.
It’s Not Downtime, It’s Improvement Time
If you’ve had the misfortune of being out work, say 8 months, forget Bill O’Reilly’s No Spin Zone. You need to spin the unemployment period into a positive. You must identify, and tell others of, a silver lining. What did you learn or improve about yourself? The most obvious statement of the day…a person who can say they learned new software or skills is more attractive than one who did nothing with the free time.
Try To Finish The Deal
A job application is like a golf swing…ones containing a strong follow through are generally more successful. I started sending follow-up cards to hiring managers of jobs I’m most interested in. I include 3 things: a quick message referencing the open position, my interest in it, and 2 business cards. Think of it a business version of the George Costanza ‘leave behind’ on Seinfeld.
Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve learned is the lingering effect of spending too much time at work. You need to maintain friendships long before getting in a position of needing help. Previously, I missed a lot of social events with both friends and co-workers due to perpetually putting in too much time at the office. Bad idea! One, you need a break from work. Two, cherish your friendships. No one helps the person who didn’t make enough of an effort for them previously. Why would they?