Monday, December 21, 2015

Should the long-term unemployed receive advice or help which differs from the advice or help for the newly unemployed

 Should the long-term unemployed receive advice or help which differs from the advice or help for the newly unemployed

Terry IrvingTerry IrvingWriter

Being unemployed at all is a black mark with Human Resources managers. It is far better to see the layoff coming and find a new job--even if it turns out that there wasn't a layoff--than it is to apply as an unemployed person. 

However, being unemployed for a long period of time is an enormous black mark and in today's recovery--where there is far too little hiring anyway--it could easily guarantee not being hired, or certainly not being hired in a job equivalent to the one you left. 

So, what do you do? 

I would seriously suggest lying. 

OK, perhaps not an out-and-out falsehood. I wouldn't argue against lying to a new employer on a moral basis (they aren't people, just corporations) but the odds are heavily weighted in favor of them catching you in a complete fabrication and blackballing you all over your industry. 

I talking about changing the nature of all that time you've spent not at a desk from 9 to 5.  Stop being "unemployed."  Become a "freelancer" or a "small business entrepreneur" or a "manager in the non-profit sector." Whereas all of these things essentially mean that you don't have a regular 9 to 5 job, they sure sound better and your life will be considerably better if they are, in fact, true. 

If you don't get a new position in the first rush--whether it's a week or a month--don't stop looking, but start doing something else as well. I know that freelancing is a common practice in my industry (television journalism) but, in these tight times, it's the quick and dirty answer to every manager in every industry who finds he or she is short-handed. 

You don't have to show up as "Joe Smith." A nice business card can make you look like an entire corporation for about 20 bucks. In fact, with companies like Legalzoom, you can become an entire corporation for very little money. 

Act like a professional when you get work, make sure that the supervisor knows who you are and how well you work (so they'll give the right answers to the HR person who calls,) and remember to never turn down work--when you're unemployed you'll find that you can magically do anything. Keep track of everything you accomplished, how much time and money you saved your clients, and keep all those phone numbers. The fact is that you are more likely to find that next job when your client decides to make the situation permanent than you ever will by wasting your time on internet job listings and HR interviews.

If, for some reason, you can't freelance/become an entrepreneur, find a worthy cause that you actually enjoy and volunteer there. However, find one with a supervisor who is understanding enough to either pay you a pittance so you can honestly say it was a job or embellish the truth to the HR person when they call (Heck, all they really have to do is to be human enough not to say "Oh, he was just a volunteer. Certainly not a manager.")

 Again, try to manage the sales floor or organize the fund drives or become a member of the board--anything that will allow you to say, "Yes, I decided that I wanted to give back to my community and I not only found it satisfying but actually learned a whole lot of things that I can bring to your company."

The other advantage to these methods is that a) freelancing should bring money to help you survive and b) doing anything is better than sitting at home and going crazy. 

One final note: ALL of those jobs that you'll see promising that you can make money from home are SCAMS. ALL of them. 

Work for real companies who pay real money and stay within your professional field. Then you can walk into that HR office, smile and say, "I sure wasn't unemployed. Just listen to what I've been doing." 

Am I suggesting that you lie to HR interviewers? Sure, if you can do it so you don't get caught. They aren't on your side, the corporation they work for has absolutely no loyalty to you or any other employee, and you need the job.