My days of searching for a full time job have been over for some years. But as a long time job search consultant, I see a frightening period ahead. The future is going to be dark for some period of time before we will see sunshine again. The pandemic is rattling the employment world to its core. Some employment experts are predicting that companies will be rehiring only a fraction of people to replace the people terminated due to the covid-19 layoffs. Some companies have realized that they have been significantly over staffed, while others are just concerned about the future so they will be even be more selective in their re-hiring/hiring process. The remote jobs of the past will multiple and become the far more common experience in the future. Many of us know or have heard of the people who moved 500-1000 miles away from their former homes but were able to take their job with them.
So if you are hoping to return to full time employment, you may want to invest some time in expanding your set of valuable skills. Let’s be honest, many of us who were employed for long periods of time with a decent employer have allowed ourselves to grow a bit rusty in our skill levels. Are you as savvy in terms of your skills? When did you last do a meaningful review of your skills? Have you been using this “enforced vacation” to enhance yourself and your professional skills? It is inevitable that Human Resources professionals are going to have a lot of people to choose from when we start returning to offices. Given that reality, it would be desirable to have some ammunition with which to convince the HR professional that they are hiring or re-hiring a person who brings a fuller complement of skills. This does not mean that you have to acquire a Ph.D. in quantitative physics during your imposed sabbatical, but some career driven improvements could prove to be invaluable.
If you are a person who has been employed for a long period, you may have gotten complacent. That’s the norm for most of us. To validate this point just ask your best buddy a few simple questions, one being why he or she should be hired. How polished is their response? Likely they will not do a great job of selling themselves. Provide them with your feedback, which will help you to see the flaws in your own presentation. Keep in mind how the interviewer will hear your presentation. For that matter, write out the answers you would anticipate giving to the predictable questions. You want to sound like a person who knows his/her background and can articulate your most important achievements effectively. Your past successes are likely to be seen as indications of your future potential. Your strong contributions with your previous employers will validate the expectation that you know how to get important projects done and why you should be hired.
I have interviewed individuals at all levels. I never cease to be amazed how poorly a majority of interviewees present themselves. You need to go back through your career and get comfortable with explaining your achievements fully. Give yourself full credit for your successes. State them with enthusiasm. But recognize that after doing a number of interviews you may grow tired of telling your story over and over, which can be fatal in an interview. So get yourself cranked before every meeting (interview or not), you want to present a positive and energetic story to everyone.
Be sure to set some goals for yourself—daily and long term. Don’t wait for the phone to ring; pick it up and reach out to everyone you can think of. The amazing part of this process is its randomness; in brief, you never know who will step up and help you. Most people want to help—you need to believe that. Yes, there are some contacts that will provide you with lip service only. But the other potential supporters need to know what you want to do in your next job and why you feel strongly about that, what locations you are considering, and some idea of your salary expectations. Don’t drone on about unrelated incidentals; be sure you have made your points about your interest in their organization.
Don’t write off companies just because they didn’t initially offer you a job, they really don’t know you well yet. Communicate your interest in their company, even if they turned you down. Consider the reality that their first choice may turn them down. Tom Selleck was not the first choice to play “Magnum P.I.” but ended up getting the role in the end. I, myself, am included on the list of second choices, I got the job; it was perhaps the “highlight” job of my career. Later, the first choice told me he just wasn’t comfortable with the top management of the organization, giving me the opportunity to take the position.
In summary, prepare yourself to shine in your interviews; have a resume that focuses on your accomplishments: have a few of your closest friends review your interviewing skills and your resume;
consider their critique seriously; celebrate your successes; ask everybody for their help (you never know who they know); remember that the vast majority of people want to help, but make sure that you are effectively communicating goals with them; persistence is absolutely invaluable. Practice self-talk as you ready for an interview; it will enhance your presentation. And perhaps most importantly, believe in your ability to succeed in this process.
CARPE DIEM/Seize the day.!
FOR YOUR FURTHER CONSIDERATION:
“Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.”
“No society ever thrived because it had a large and growing class of parasites living off those who produce.” Both quotes from author and scholar Dr. Thomas Sowell.
James F. Fitzgerald is the president of James F. Fitzgerald & Associates, Inc., a Naperville-based Senior