How to Get Back to Work Quickly If You Are Now Unemployed

August 15, 2016

Apart from the obvious issue of not having a salary coming in, the major problem with a period of unemployment is the lack of focus that can creep in, completely unnoticed. If you want to get back to work quickly, you need to take total responsibility for your job search. Here are some of the things you should be doing to shorten your period of transition.

Here are some of the things you should be doing to shorten your period of transition.

Act with urgency

It is understandable that you may want to have some time to decompress, especially if there was a protracted period of stress prior to the final exit. The key to success, however, is to act with urgency by initiating your search while you are still “fresh” since a résumé gap can work against you.

Network like never before

Think of job ads from online postings and recruitment sites as nothing more than a starting point to see what’s out there. If you see something that fits your unique abilities, employ your network of friends, former colleagues, and other acquaintances to put six degrees of separation to work for you. It’s a certainty that someone in your wider circle knows who does the hiring and firing—arrange a coffee meeting and discuss how you could add value to their organization.

Executive search recruiters are your friends—although their function is to find the right person to fill a position rather than to find you a job, they are uniquely placed to keep an ear to the ground for the latest trends and openings in your industry.

Behave like you’re still in an office

Treat your job search like a job in itself; if you’d spend eight hours in front of a computer screen and in meetings for your job, then do the same for your search, refining skills, polishing your CV, and searching for the right next move in your career. Where possible, follow up any applications with a phone call.

Invest your time wisely

Seventy to eighty percent of your leads will come from various forms of networking and the remainder from online postings and recruiters. You want to focus on contacting people who can say “yes” and their influencers. Also, ensure that you have some knowledge in these targets. Know what you have to offer (what can you do for them?) and then deliver it in a solutions-oriented way. Be a solution to a problem, not a job seeker.

The executive recruiter

While an executive recruiter is paid by the corporation who retains them, it is reasonable to expect them to provide you with guidance on your marketability and an objective view of the job market.  More sophisticated executive recruiters will provide interview coaching and suggestions on sectors/functions that would best fit your experience.  Most importantly, they will view you as a business partner and will return your phone call or email.

When applying to opportunities, it is important to note that an executive recruiter is closely attuned to their clients’ needs, and there may be any number of reasons that you aren’t suitable which have nothing to do with your experience or ability.  In working with an executive recruiter, it’s worth remembering the basics:

  • Be flatteringly truthful;
  • Explain gaps – career breaks are fine; they’re even better if you spent them volunteering or learning a new skill;
  • Proofread your CV, and proofread again—if you know you’re word-blind to spelling and grammatical errors, get someone else to do this for you; and,
  • Be authentic – hearted and humorous, or tend to be more serious and businesslike, don’t try to hide this either on paper or at interview; not only will you not come across well, but it will also be difficult to judge whether you’re a good fit for the company.

Once you’ve taken responsibility for your job hunt, networked, been thorough in your search, and updated your résumé, is there anything else you should be doing? Yes. Think of every time you’ve ever received exceptional service or attention from a company. In short, where someone has added value to the transaction in some way. Go out of your way to provide that something extra, and your job will come to you.

Finally, with the Olympic Games in mind, don’t reduce your pace until you hit the tape, or in other words, do not stop your search process until you accept an offer.  Although it may be tempting to slow down or stop looking once you have several things on the go, it is very competitive and dynamic in the current market. You stand to gain by having a few extra options to consider rather than to having to start all over if all of your options evaporate.

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Charlene Bergman is the Managing Director of the Interim Management & Executive Search practice at Farber. Her expertise lies in building long term relationships by supporting clients and candidates to meet their corporate and career aspirations. Charlene can be reached at 416.496.3752 and