Editor’s Note: This is part 2 of a series of blogs regarding Catherine Rampell’s article, “Are there really no good job applicants out there?” in The New York Times on Wednesday, January 9, 2013.
This fascinating article begins with the fact that three out of ten companies surveyed by the National Federation of Independent Business in December 2012 indicated there were few or no qualified applicants for open positions. This at the same time 12 million people was still unemployed.
Average hourly earnings of private sector employees have declined indicating that despite the perceived lack of candidates, employers are not increasing wages to attract the available qualified candidates. This means to me that employers must not be as desperate to fill positions as they claim.
Finally, recruiters and unemployed candidates report that many employers refuse to hire unemployed candidates regardless of qualification.
Everyone knows someone who is or has been out of work. I have been there too.
I was still reeling from leaving my last position. A few days after leaving the job I spoke with a friend who is also a recruiter. He asked me what happened so I told him the sordid details. He paused in the conversation and said this to me: “I am saying this as a friend. I never want you to tell that story again. Ever. To anyone.”
Why would he say that? No one wants to hear why I left my last position. Telling that story emphasized that I was out of work and sounded like I was complaining. The story diminished me as a viable candidate.
I thought about it for a long time. I changed my story. I started describing my situation like this: “It was the right time for me to leave. I completed the challenge I set out to complete in that position so I left to return to the consulting practice I started in 2004.” My version was true but it was also true that the new President did not want me any longer. Which response makes a better impression?
You can change your story too. Make yourself more attractive to overcome these powerful barriers against unemployed people by changing the way you describe yourself. Here are some tips:
- Choose your words carefully. Every word must be strategically chosen to enhance your skills and distract away from your current employment situation.
- Think through your skills very carefully. Be certain you can articulate a very close match between what is expected and what you offer.
- Have a prepared, rehearsed way of describing your current situation that moves the conversation to what you have to offer and away from the reason you left your last position.
- Practice until your response to all potential questions comes across comfortable and relaxed. If you are nervous about your current situation so will employers.
- Seek professional help to revise the way you present yourself to employers.
This means war. Drastic means are necessary if you are an unemployed candidate. Change your story to change the way you are perceived in the job market.