You're unemployed, now what?

At one point or another, everybody finds themselves unemployed—or what might more positively be described as “between jobs”. From my time at two of Vancouver’s top recruitment firms, and having coached a number of individuals through the process of finding their next career, you could say I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Here are five pieces of advice I’ve shared with job seekers:

  1. Own your situation. Own the fact that you’re unemployed. When interviewing, acknowledge that it’s not the ideal situation to be in, but that you’re optimistic and confident that your skill set will bring value to the right organization. Hiring managers will appreciate you acknowledging your circumstances—and if you’re calm, collected and focused, they’ll be able to see that you handle pressure well too.
  2. Limit your daily online search to two hours. It’s estimated that the hidden job market represents up to 80% of all jobs—so don’t spend 80% of your time searching online. Get out of the house and start networking with professionals in your industry or the company you’re interested in. Volunteering with local not-for-profit organizations will also benefit your search; it keeps your skills sharp and a lot of not-for-profits have corporate donors that you could potentially be introduced to.
  3. Focus your search. Saying that you’re “open to anything” is one of the worst things to communicate during your search; it’s vague and makes you sound unfocused. You might be open-minded to roles outside of your industry or experience, but employers are usually closed-minded when it comes to hiring and look for specific skill sets or direct industry experience. If you are trying to transition to another industry or role, the best way to achieve this is getting a referral to a hiring manager from your network. Write down a list of three to five industries and 10 to 20 companies you’re interested in working for and start seeking out contacts on LinkedIn.
  4. Find out what the major associations are in your industry of interest.Professionals who are a part of associations and attend industry events are usually the ones who are most knowledgeable and well-connected in their industry. For example, if you’re interested in food manufacturing and are located in British Columbia,the BC Food Processors Association would be a major resource. Start reaching out to organizations and enquire about volunteering opportunities.
  5. Connect with recruitment firms. Ask to meet with a specialist in your field or set up a short networking phone call with a local recruiter. I wouldn’t recommend connecting with every recruitment firm in your area, but partnering with a handful (up to five) won’t hurt. If a recruiter asks to work exclusively with you, avoid them: they’re not looking out for your best interests. Also, recruitment is like dating: you might not find the right match immediately.

Good luck,

Sam Struan