So you’re unemployed,…..


You are about to have all the time in the world and depending on your circumstances, no time at all. You probably have a swirl of thoughts, fears and emotions and you are not sure how to process them all.

Take some time

The temptation of course is to immediately launch into the jobs market, scanning linkedin and other sources, firing off applications and CVs to grant you an immediate sense of action and purpose. I would advise you not to do that, because action with no clear target is often wasted, although it may help you feel better in the short term.

Better to pause, in order to construct a sense of where you want to focus your efforts and for what outcomes. If you can take a little time out to be calm and reflective and to make a break with what has gone before in preparation for planning your next move, so much the better. This will in itself allow all the emotions and thoughts to settle. Time will lessen any immediate emotion you may be feeling about your situation or how you left your last job.

Planning your approach

It’s important to structure yourself not only to deal with all the thoughts and emotions that will be swirling around you, whether you have confronted them or not at this stage, but to have a clear sense of what direction you want to go for next.

Let’s be honest, this is an event you cannot prepare for, your personal circumstances will be unique to you and it will effect you in a surprising number of ways from your sense of self to any amount of fears you may be facing as a result of your situation in life in regarding family, money, age, relationship, role seniority, location in the world and so on.

Recognise your starting point

Take a moment to acknowledge how you are feeling. After all who knows you better than yourself? Whether you are a super positive person or a touch cynical, you have to prepare as if this temporary unemployment could last for months.

You need to be honest about the current job market and job economy in your country or industry. Also be honest to know that every advertised role will have hundreds of applicants as well as internal candidates. In a depressed job market companies will tend to favour internal promotion, as such you need to have a plan in order to be able to differentiate when you are applying for the roles you find.

For me it has been 6 months for example, with many near misses along the way. I honestly never believed I would either last this long or that it would take this long to secure a new job. No matter what type of person you are, if your search extends to months you will experience dramatic ups and downs. Everyone is different and I appreciate there will be degrees of experience here but I am sure that universally you can expect to experience to some degree each or everyone of the following;

  • Loss of sleep
  • Moments of joy and hope
  • Moments of pure fear and depression
  • Anger and frustration
  • Immense loneliness
  • Disillusionment
  • Stress
  • Imposed or desired social isolation
  • Shame or embarrassment

It is an emotional roller coaster and as you are putting yourself out there as the product, the rejection you will inevitably receive is therefore all the more personal. This is especially the case if you have invested personally in the role or company you are applying to.

Sustained motivation can therefore be tough, even if your circumstances are difficult. A plan will hold you together and give you focus, especially when times are tough.

Talk to friends and family

This is important as you might not want to discuss your situation with anyone, it’s hard enough to process yourself. You may be feeling a sense of shame or failure, but you will receive so much valuable support from those who know and love you best of all. Also it will prevent difficult social or emotional problems later down the track. You cannot underestimate the stressfulness of the situation either, especially as you will be living this 24/7. In a direct sense this situation is all about you and there is a real danger of trying to take on the world to fix it entirely by yourself. I will talk about the impulse to isolate yourself socially whilst you focus on the task of getting your work life back on track in other posts, but know that for now it is better and more healthy to speak out.

The issue here is twofold.

  1. Life does not stop because you don’t currently have a job. People, partners and friends will continue as normal and expect you to as well. Work is after all just one compartment of our total lives, albeit a very important one.
  2. Support. It is one less thing to worry about if you tell those around you about your experience. In return the strength and support your loved ones will provide you is of real comfort not to mention the ideas and genuine inputs they can provide to any CV, Social Selling approaches or presentations you may use as part of approaching a job application.

Beware of taking on all the burden and shouldering all the pressure yourself.

Practical Steps – A Plan of Attack


In coming posts I will cover job adverts, techniques and differential approaches when applying within the recruitment process, but for now I am focusing on the planning stage before you make any approaches or applications.

Here is a suggested list. I will break these into separate short posts as I’m a great believer in micro-learning, also this will allow the reader to dip in and out, focusing on what is most important to them.

Job Search

  • What has been your journey so far?
    • What is your WHY? (More on this in next Blog)
    • What do you care about passionately, what are you best at, what got you into your current industry?
    • Why did you get into your field? By chance or design, if chance, did you learn to love it and why?
    • What have you learned that you would pass onto others?
    • What do you dislike? 
    • What have you accomplished?
      • Think of specifics; Sales, learning, audience development, mentoring, etc
  • Revisit and rewrite your CV
    • Highlight achievements
      • Begin to map out your story
      • Think about why you left positions
  • Begin to develop bullet points to highlight your credentials for roles
    • These will form the basis of Social Selling emails to hiring managers & recruiters
    • These will also provide a component for application Cover Letters
  • Address your Linkedin Profile/update/change
    • (Look out for coming post)
  • What industries are you most suitable for?
  • What skills, experience do you have?
    • What roles and job titles will you focus on for your search?
  • What are your career goals
    • Where are you now and where ultimately would you like to be in 3 – 5 years
  • What type of organisation are you looking for or suited for?
    • Startup, SME, MNC
    • Why?
  • What is the state of the job market
    • Consider your industry
    • Country economy
  • Where will you source jobs?
    • Network – (Personal & Professional)
    • Companies you know personally
    • Recruiters
    • Jobs Boards and Social Networks (Monster, Linkedin, Indeed etc)
  • What is your minimum expected salary?
    • Work out your ranges for searches and interviews
      • Many sites allow a salary range to help prospect opportunities
      • Helps to define what sort of opportunity, job or company you might trade for a reduction in initial salary (not relevant for all)
  • List target companies by industry
    • Review how you are connected to these companies (More on social selling soon!)
  • Scan the job pages
    • Highlight jobs you may want to apply to
  • Start to practice speaking about your roles and experience
    • Focus on achievements, learnings
    • Why did you leave roles?
    • Consider what stories will back up your applications for roles based on your practical experiences
  • Begin to ready yourself for those tricky interview questions
    • What motivates you?
    • Your strengths and weaknesses
    • Your greatest wins or achievements in the context of the job function you perform or want to perform
    • Where do you want to be in 3 – 5 years
    • Why you made certain choices
    • Examples of how you mentored or developed others
    • Examples of problem solving or self development undertaken
    • Where does your passion come from
    • Difficult situations or people you have managed
    • Mistakes and learnings

Other considerations

  • Address your monetary position
    • How long can you budget for?
    • What costs can you cut?
  • What will be your daily routine?
    • Where will you work?
    • When will you work on applications?
    • What will you focus on in the downtime?
      • Learning
      • Exercise
      • Hobbies
      • Develop a personal brand on Social Media Linkedin & Twitter (More on this soon)
  • Consider your network
    • Are there friends or colleagues you could immediately reach out to for ideas, introductions or support in finding opportunity?

Armed with answers to these points you will be in a focused state and ready for entering the world of Job Applications. You will already be on course to making the most of a targeted approach to your job hunt and to reaching out to those hiring managers and recruiters.

An additional benefit is that you will have effected a mindset that is focused on selling yourself (Yes that term again!) in the best possible light. You will also have begun the preparation for telephone and face to face interviews by considering some of your motivations, answers and approaches.

I am sure I have missed off elements here, or you may have your own insights to share. You can find me on twitter and email, I’d love to hear from you @OpenCandidate &

Until next time; Be strong, be positive. This circumstance is not you and it won’t define you.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now” – Alan Lakein



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