Lengthy unemployment can feel like you’re drifting in purgatory during a job search. You send out your resume, follow leads, but ultimately, hear nothing back. It leaves you feeling disconnected, alienated, irrelevant, and depressed.
When pulling yourself out of an unemployment slump remember the feelings of bleakness are normal. Your job is a huge part of your life; acknowledge your loss and give yourself time to grieve.
No one gets hired by moping. It’s absolutely essential that you build up your shattered confidence during your job search. We’ve compiled some tips specifically for job seekers who’ve been out of the workforce for six months or longer. While these tips apply to anyone looking for a job, they are absolutely essential if you haven’t been employed recently.
1. Stay positive—and avoid surrounding yourself with people who aren’t. Unemployment can ravage your self-confidence. However, the most sincere kind of confidence comes from within—not from validation by others. This breed of self-empowerment is perceptible to others and can work wonders for you in a job interview. Instead of thinking about what you could have done differently to keep your old job, set your sights on the future and what you can do now to make your next job a reality. If you feel like someone around you is sapping your energy, tune out their negativity—remember, where praise is positive, criticism is reductive, always leaving you with less than what you started with.
2. Know what you can offer. Sit down and make a list of your talents, skills, accomplishments, and achievements you’re proud of. Then read them over, think back to the specific details, and consider the reach of each item. What do they reveal about who you are as a person and as an employee? Spending some time this list will boost your confidence and provide you with ready responses during a job interview.
3. Network—and not just over the internet. Instead of sitting at home and applying for jobs, make “warm contacts.” Instead of sending your resume off into the oblivion of the internet, attend industry events and join groups relevant to your career path. Start talking. Make connections. Once you’ve developed a rapport with someone, it’s easier for them to understand your current situation and look past unemployment when referring you for a job.
4. Don’t oversell yourself. When networking or interviewing, don’t overcompensate for your employment status by acting arrogant. It will irritate the person you’re speaking to, and it’s transparent. Be cool and collected, not cocky. Instead of talking about all the things that you can achieve on your own if given the opportunity, take a more team-oriented approach—how do your skills mesh with those of current employees? What interests you about the position and the company beyond salary? What goals can you imagine achieving together?
5. Consider temporary or contractual employment. Today’s amount of employers hiring temporary, part-time, or temporary-to-full time employees has reached a 6 year high. Take advantage of this hiring rate by perusing the temporary/consulting opportunities available in your industry. Temporary roles can keep you busy, help you learn new skills in a relatively short amount of time, lead to on-the-job networking, give you the opportunity to build long-term connections with like-minded professionals, and could potentially lead to full-time or permanent employment.
6. Write and rehearse your elevator pitch. Lots of interviewers begin by asking, “What can you tell me about yourself?” An elevator pitch provides a streamlined answer that highlights your skills, what you can offer, and what kind of problems you can resolve—all in less than a minute. The best thing about an elevator pitch is you can use it in a myriad of situations. Having a prepared pitch on hand allows you to make a stellar impression in any set of circumstances.
7. Maintain balance in your life. Don’t spend all of your free time looking for a job during your job search—it will drive you crazy and you’ll burn out quickly. Make time to exercise, relax, and spend time with family, just like you would if you were working. Spend a fixed amount of hours each day looking for work. And don’t close up—it’s OK to rely on your friends and family to support you emotionally (and perhaps financially) through this difficult time.
While lengthy unemployment can be disheartening to say the least, a good attitude and a great work ethic can make the difference between a few months without work and indefinite unemployment. A little bit of confidence goes a long way; couple that with a lot of motivation, and it will take you even farther. For anyone who is out of work, there isn’t a moment to lose—stop thinking negatively, and start developing positive alternatives to unemployment and conduct a comprehensive job search.
As a Senior Managing Director within The Execu|Search Group‘s Healthcare division, Katie Niekrash has worked tirelessly since joining the firm in 2007. She is accredited with developing new markets for the firm and has been an active member in building the division into one of the largest of its kind in the Tri-State area.