News Flash. Employers don’t want to hire people who are unemployed. Google it.
If you’ve been without a job for a while, you develop a kind of stink. You can see it when your friends back away from you at cocktail parties. You can see it as the ratio of interviews scheduled to resumes sent out continues to decline.
If you’re unemployed, you’re likely to be treated like a pariah. Basically, the mind set associated with being an employee is extremely unnatural. It requires you to smile happily while you choke down some ridiculous crap.
This is what employers are afraid of when they learn that you’ve been unemployed for longer than, say, a month. (Up to that point, it’s easy to describe it as a vacation) Part of the employment contract involves knowing who is and who isn’t the boss. Once you start to forget that (because you are taking responsibility for yourself), things start to erode. You become increasingly unmanageable.
Once the habit wears off, it’s hard to put it back on.
It turns out that those folks at the office who had outside gigs, moonlighting and short stays in the job had it right. A job is a temporary convenience. But, once you know that, you have to spend your energy hiding what you know.
Part of what they say is really true. If you wallow in unemployment and don’t do meaningful work, you lose your edge. You become less effective just like an athlete who doesn’t train. The work muscles atrophy quickly.
Here are four things that will allow you to keep the stink of unemployment off of you and your resume:
- Start A Little Company: Having your own corporation is always a good thing. Try top name it something other than “My Company” or a derivation of your last name. Then, when you need to account for time between big paying gigs, you can say “Consulting for Insert the NAme of Your Company”
- Volunteer One Day Per Month At A Non Profit: If you are routinely working at the local non-profit while you have a job, it’s easy to convert to being a full time volunteer. This gives you a seamless way to immediately transition into a new gig.
- Always Have A Project List: The moment you get fired or laid off, start working on your pet project. Try to have some doozies like redesigning the sixth grade classroom or installing a pond in your side yard.
- Immediately Start Looking For Work: The nonsense idea that a grief period before you start your job hunt comes from the good old days when people got severance packages. If you’ve been sacked recently, the package is dismal at best. All those folks who got fired first got better deals. So, the best bet is to start looking for work on the day you get fired. Take no down time.
Now that you mention it, why did you ever stop looking for work in the first place?