You have to have a job to get a job, or so the adage goes. But that’s not true at all.
You aren’t the first person to be laid off, or to re-enter the workforce after taking time to raise kids.
Here are tips for landing a job while unemployed, and they come from four individuals – a career coach, a sales rep who landed her dream job, an upbeat job hunter and an entrepreneur who helps clients shine on LinkedIn.
The career coach
“When you get an interview, you need to have a story about why you are unemployed,” says Tim Simons, owner of Build Coaching in New York. “Proactively offer it. Don’t try to hide it. You are not a bad person.”
Make that story, which is grounded in truth, positive and forward looking. People are going to have more empathy and respect for the person in front of them than a faceless company.
“My company has been rightsizing its marketing department, and unfortunately, I was let go. However, I believe this is an opportunity for me to gain fresh ideas and insight while also putting my 20+ years of knowledge and skills to work.”
“I left my last job as (fill in the blank), because I needed more flexibility as I raised my young family. Now that my children are older and in school, I am looking forward to getting back into the corporate world. I bring leadership experience from the PTO, where I served at all levels, including as president.”
Practice that story. Repeat it over and over in your head and aloud to yourself and any friends and loved ones who will listen.
“You are going to feel rusty. Your confidence is going to be flagging, because you aren’t turning up every day and running meetings,” Simons adds. “You need to get yourself in full mojo mode.”
Lastly, Simons warns against feeling desperate. You are still interviewing the potential employers as much as they are interviewing you.
“Still use the time to make sure that it is a place you want to work for,” he says. “If you have been on the chase for a while, expectations start to drop. Don’t sell yourself out for anything you will regret later.”
The sales rep
Network, network, network and find structure to your days.
That’s the advice of Carin Siegfried, who in 2016 was laid off from her Manhattan book publishing job after just six months. Siegfried had just moved to the area from Charlotte, North Carolina, and for a short while during her five months without a job, her husband was unemployed, too.
Money was tight, so Siegfried determined she really had to make the best use of her New Jersey transit pass (she lives in Montclair, New Jersey). During those couple of times a month that she had to visit the unemployment office in Manhattan, she made a day of networking in the city.
“I’d set up a coffee, a lunch, a coffee and drinks,” meeting with fellow college alumni, old colleagues and friends at publishing houses, she says. “You never know who can help you.”
Siegfried says networking and keeping a structure to her days helped her maintain her confidence and nail the interview that led to her dream job – a field sales rep for book publisher Macmillan.
The upbeat job hunter
Be kind to yourself. That’s one piece of advice from Andy Azinger, who was recently laid off from Wells Fargo, where he produced investment videos and podcasts for more than 20 years.
“I’ve had to get over thinking that I don’t have any credibility in my area of expertise, because I’m not currently employed,” says Azinger, who lives in suburban Milwaukee. “My professional experience, my credibility doesn’t belong to my previous employer. That expertise is mine. That credibility is mine.”
Another lesson Azinger learned: Ask for help.
“I’ve needed to be OK with asking for help – connections, introductions, referrals and sometimes just to have the opportunity to talk to other professionals to keep my wits about me,” he said.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete, current and compelling. It is your 21st century resume and professional portfolio that recruiters and hiring managers can check out 24/7.
This is my personal recommendation. When I launched my public relations and communications business in 2016, I had no clients. It was basically not having a job and having to find not just one job, but many jobs.
As I started my business, I rewrote my entire LinkedIn profile to tell a story – my career story of how I went from journalist to corporate communicator to independent PR professional and entrepreneur.
I wrote and posted articles that dealt with PR, writing and communications. I posted media links to work I had accomplished at each of my jobs. I reached out for coffee meetings with connections I hadn’t seen in a while.
I learned how LinkedIn works and what makes a good profile. Then I started rewriting clients’ profiles as the start to their overhaul PR plan. And that led to a whole part of my business – a really big part – that I call LinkedIn makeovers.
Clients have told me they feel more confident in their job interviews after their LinkedIn profile has been upgraded. They also say they get more views from recruiters.
So get on LinkedIn and shine and show people how great you are.
The bottom line
As Simons, the career coach, says: “Focus on all the great things you have done in your career.”