How to get back in the game when you've been out for a while.
Job hunting is never easy but it’s even harder when you’ve been out of work for a while. According to Australian Human Resources Institute Chairman Peter Wilson FCPA, an employer always prefers to hire a person in a job.
“You’ll maximise your chance of finding a better job if you’ve already got one,” says Wilson.
“If you’re coming [to an interview] without a job, I know you’re potentially a little more desperate, a bit more driven,” Wilson says. “I’m thinking about why you lost your job, have you given me referees that tell me that or keep me from finding out? [There is a] level of natural suspicion. Regardless of who you are and what job you’ve left, with or without a job, it drives slightly different reactions by employers.”
Robert Half director Andrew Morris suggests that employees disclose any gaps in their CV immediately so that employers can’t jump to any conclusions. He also urges jobseekers to invest time in their job application.
“You can’t just send out your current CV hoping that the same CV is going to get you a better job,” Morris says. “It is crucial that you spend as much time in it as you invest in working in a great organisation that you’re really enjoying.”
“The most important part is to get your CV right,” he says. “A way to measure how good your CV is that if you’re sending out 10 CVs to 10 different companies, you secure at least seven out of 10 interviews.
"If you've been out of work for an extended period of time, be prepared to accept a demotion."
“If you’re not,” Morris adds, “it’s not about you, it’s about the document that you’re representing to the marketplace. People send out the same CV and get the same result. Spending time on your CV and application is crucial to securing employment.”
If you’ve been out of work for an extended period of time, Wilson suggests you should prepare to accept a demotion.
“In other words, stop spinning around out there by yourself,” he says. “Get a reconnection with the workforce, even if you have to come in a bit lower than you were. You might need to re-establish some options to move out there, but don’t sit out there.”
Morris agrees, adding that most people will find their way back to where they want to be. “If you can prove yourself, no matter what the job, you will end up getting the job you want by being flexible, having the right attitude and showing an employer what you’re made of,” he says.
Wilson says candidates who are committed, hardworking and skilled will often find themselves climbing back up the ladder within a year of being in the new company – even after conceding a rung on the ladder for the sake of employment. A climb that, he says, is harder to achieve from outside a company, where people don’t know you.
And don't forget to keep networking. “Some of the best jobs are through networking,” Morris says. “Different people that you might know through different networking events, or other senior people within business, can provide opportunities or feedback.”
“When I’ve moved jobs I’ve gone through my networks and thought, ‘Who do I talk to that can help me with what I want to do next?’,” Wilson says. It’s important, he adds, to be clear about what you want. If you’re too general, people won’t know what you want or how to help you.
4 CV must-haves
According to Robert Half director Andrew Morris, the most important factor when job seeking is your CV. Below are four questions he recommends you ask yourself.
Does it look professional?
Are you changing it every time you apply for a job?
Do the most relevant points stand out?
Are you tailoring your CV to the organisation that you’re sending it to?
Do your skills measure up? Assess yourself with CPA Australia's Career Guidance System.