Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Are you out of work, despite your experience, skills and qualifications? Here’s what to do about it.
This is a surprisingly common problem, so join the club. There is a way out of this.
Job-hunting is about timing, as much as it is about having the necessary skills and experience to do a job. You can influence what skills you have, but you can’t influence timing.
So what you need is to accelerate the timing – being in the right place at the right time. So what’s the secret? Well there isn’t a secret, but it’s maybe something you haven’t considered.
The answer is take the best job you can get, as long as it leverages your core skill set or passions. Any job that keeps you busy, puts you amongst people, and earns some cash.
So you might be thinking – why should I take a step down? You’re only as good as your last gig, right? That’s old fashioned thinking, and a cliche perpetuated by those that are actually in gainful employment. When the bills are racking up and the gap in your resume is widening, I think believing in those is vanity.
The benefits of being in a job – any job.
The obvious ones don’t need a lot of explaining – you earn an income which takes some of the pressure off and reduces stress. It means you can live to fight another day. As I mentioned above, it also means that the gap in your resume is arrested. You also gain more confidence and you’ll develop that feeling associated with being useful and adding value. It’s a reward in itself. But it ain’t the ‘big job’. Patience… because here’s the thing:
Taking a job – even one outside of your industry and experiences – means you build more skills, wider experience, and best of all, you’re in the best situation to discover more opportunity. Mixing with people kick-starts the ‘network effect’. Let’s face it, if you are where you are now then you have probably exhausted your existing network. Time to expand it.
Your new colleagues, new friends, new customers, and new suppliers are potential leads into other employers.
I have gained most of my ‘high value’ work by the network effect. Rarely do I apply for jobs through ads. But when I have, it has been because I have taken ‘any job’, but it’s gone onto much bigger things.
Taking ‘any job’
One objection in your head might be is that if you take a job now, you’re locked in without destroying your reputation. I think that’s understandable – but it doesn’t have to be like that. When you’re taking on a job that isn’t ideal, honesty is your best policy.
Your job is an exchange of an application of your capabilities (your work) for pay. If you’re very experienced and have many portable skills, your employer is getting those very cheaply. The trade-off is that your employer must understand that when a better job comes along, you may take it. Be honest about this. If you employer isn’t content with that, then don’t take the job, with your reputation intact.
You’ll find that your employer may stay jump at the chance of having you in the team!
Of course, you could say nothing, and take the better job when it comes along anyway. Just understand that your name could be mud afterwards, and it’s not very fair to your employer as they will have to invest in recruiting again. That’s up to you.
Watch your ego
If you take a job you consider ‘below’ you, then you should thing again about your ego. This job is a stepping stone, and is solving a problem. It isn’t ‘lower’ – it’s just that you can do more. If you take an ego into your new workplace, then this is going to come out as arrogance and aloofness. You’ll be ostracized and this could be damaging to finding that ‘bigger’ job anyway. Get your ego sorted, or it could bight your in the ass later on.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep it clear in your head that you’re capable of adding more value elsewhere. It’s the difference between confidence and arrogance.
Your new job is going to pay less – with a large mortgage and school fees to pay, you’ll no doubt be worried about this. I recommend that you talk to your bank and creditors to explain your situation and renegotiate based on your income, even if it’s temporary.
Then keep looking
Once you’re in your new job, keep looking. This is a temporary solution – a lack of time invested in continuing your job search will damage your long-term prospects. If you’ve been honest with your new employer, then it shouldn’t be a surprise to them when you ask for some time out to attend an interview! But the obvious thing is that by being inside an employer, you can spot emerging opportunities for you to move into leadership positions.
Your career choices ARE up to you. Although you’re facing a tough time, you still have choices about what work you take on. This post aims to open up those choices for you – not limit them. If you have to move into a different job than you hoped for, don’t be dismayed by this, as you’re taking a positive step and making a choice to further your career, even if it is to consolidate temporarily. If you’re going to be miserable in a job, don’t take it, but instead widen your options.