Is there a point at which employers perceive a person as less valuable or less employable because they’ve been unemployed for a long length of time?
Unfortunately, a negative perception of the unemployed, however slight and never voiced, will always exist. Even today when many are without a job through no fault of their own, we are inclined to look differently upon those who have been laid off. As a terminated job seeker, it can be very easy to accept defeat before even beginning as a result of your situation. It is important to turn that frustration into positive energy and a stronger will to succeed. When channeled properly, this will help you not only help you to stay focused during your search, but will give the appearance of you as a confident, determined candidate during the interview.
Most interview questions are answered with some level of subjectivity. The only thing not subjective about being asked, “What have you done since being laid off?” is how you should not answer. “Well, I’ve been looking really hard for a job, have had a couple interviews but nothing yet.” That answer speaks to a defeatist attitude and shows a candidate who’s been beaten by the market, not driven by its fiercer competition. Knowing how not to answer is as important as knowing what you can say to let an interviewer know that you can make the best of all situations.
Consulting or Temporary Work
Consulting or “temp” work can carry with it the same false negative impression as being unemployed. Part-time or temporary work can be explained, even to the most jaded recruiter or HR rep, in a way that makes you a more attractive candidate. If presented as an opportunity to learn a new software package, accounting pronouncement, or exposure to different sector or company of vastly different size, working hourly can provide an opportunity to learn faster than working in a permanent role. By discussing temp work during the interview, you can demonstrate to an interviewer why these experiences have provided benefits that, when combined with your last permanent role, make you a more diverse applicant for their opening.
When not working traditional hours, individuals have time free to attend continuing education courses and catch up on required credits to keep certifications present. Taking CLE or CPE courses that provide technical instruction of new rules and regulations is a luxury that working permanently can often prevent. Speaking about and relating information learned through programs taken because you had extra time to learn tells an interviewer that you understand that technical skills can lapse and, while not working, you are doing whatever possible to remain current.
Keeping Current on the Industry
Nothing could be worse than being unable to answer a technical question asked about an industry change that happened while you were unemployed. It is crucial to remain absolutely current, as you would if working, regarding regulations, rules, policies, etc. that change on a periodic basis. The stigma of being unemployed is only proved when those who aren’t working can’t remain competitive and current as with their employed counterparts.
Telling a hiring manager you’ve been hanging around and applying for jobs really means you’ve become better acquainted with your couch and daytime television. Without waking up every day for work, complacency becomes a swift killer. Giving the interviewer concrete examples of how you remain motivated, interested and current in working will is enthusiastic energy demonstrated by a candidate that they’ll be eager to hire.