I did some research for a presentation last night and came across some statistics about “What happened in 1982.” One of the items was the country was in the beginnings of a great recession. Ever since one person started working for another for pay there have been jobs and layoffs and unemployment. Unemployment, recessions, depressions—these things occur throughout the years. This being said, not since the “great depression” of 1929 have so many people been out of work for so long.
It's a safe bet you know someone who has been out of work for six, 12, or even 24 months. These are educated, skilled, bright people caught up in the failing job market, competing either with more experienced/educated workers or bright, tech-savvy college graduates who have the skills and energy at a lower price tag.
Whatever the situation, as unemployment drags on it becomes a career on its own, with rules and survival tactics. The longer you’re out of the workforce you become part of the subculture of unemployed workers who spend their days looking for work.
Every job has a job description. What does it take to succeed at “Temporarily Unemployed?”
1. Excellent verbal and written communications skills. Writing a good resume and effectively telling your story are two requirements if you want this to be a temporary job. A carefully written, error-free resume outlines and demonstrates your qualifications. Your ability to make conversation, ask and answer questions, and listen to others will help you make the most of networking opportunities.
2. Computer/Internet knowledge. This is how work gets done just about anywhere, so you’ve got to know how to use computer software, like word processing, spreadsheets, and email. No excuses. Add to that how to use a cell phone, smart phone, Facebook, text messaging and other digital communication and social networking tools. You may get an interview request through a text message. If you don’t know how to access texts and respond, you’re going to be in this “job” for a long time.
3. Online and LinkedIn. Employers use LinkedIn to screen candidates, check information and just see if they are savvy enough to be online. Set up a free profile, start adding contacts, join some groups and get noticed. LinkedIn is the new resume; in fact, it may replace the paper resume. Resumes are static. LinkedIn profiles can be updated at any time, letting an employer know about the class you just took, your latest client project or blog post.
4. Patience. Employers are taking longer to interview candidates and make hiring decisions. With tight budgets, they’re taking longer before making a commitment of time and money. This time of year, the employed are taking vacations, so it takes even longer. You need a double dose of patience so you don’t start stalking and pestering prospects with phone calls and emails. Desperation is not an attractive character trait.
5. Unfailing optimism. Every new day is filled with undiscovered opportunities. I know that sounds like “pie in the sky,” “The sun will come out tomorrow” stuff, but it’s truer than “I’ll never get a job” negative self-talk. Confidence is contagious. It spreads from you to an employer and can be the thing that convinces him to put his money on you.
6. Frugality. Not everyone has a big savings account, bills paid in full and their retirement fund maxed out before they get laid off. Most of the time it takes you by surprise. Unemployment checks vary, but few are even close to the former paycheck. Learn to live with less fluff so you can continue your job search. You’ll need to pay your bills, eat properly, and take your interview outfit to the cleaners occasionally. Gas for the car or bus/cab fair for interviews is another essential expense. You can resume your former lifestyle after you land another job. Or by that time, you may have found a more satisfying, stress-free lifestyle.
The position of “unemployed” is meant to be temporary. How long it lasts is up to the job market and your efforts. Some may say luck or providence have something to do with it. Regardless, doing a good “job” as unemployed will get you back in the ranks of the employed.