15 lessons learned while in between jobs
‘Going through transition’ is a learning experience for anybody who spends time away from gainful employment. Leona Wilson, a senior HR professional has been ‘out’ for 9 months, six of those months of her own volition. Over the past three months she has been actively job seeking and monitoring her experiences which she has generously shared with us. Feel free to add to her experiences and lessons learned by sending me an email or commenting on Workopolis.
1. Be careful where you spend your networking time and with whom. There are definitely quality meetings and there are meetings that are time wasters and costly. These can be association meetings or Advice Calls. The meetings that work are the ones where you learn something, where the folks you are meeting are in a positive space and they give open feedback that will help you move forward with your search.
2. Keep your mind open to all possibilities. You may be committed only to full time positions but who’s to say that a part time or contract position couldn’t turn into full time. Also, a contract job may give you new skills that will aid you in getting that next applied for, cherished, FT position. You have the time to explore opportunities you might otherwise not have considered.
3. The resume is a living, changing document. Tailoring each resume to the job posting reminds you of accomplishments you might have forgotten that you can add to your Professional Wonderment pile.
4. Broaden your network with people outside of your own industry. Once you have decided who your target market is, start looking for people in that industry or demographic to meet. Association meetings of like-minded folks are mandatory, but that should only be one of your networking categories.
5. Every interview is an exercise in discovery. Every interviewer has their own style and way of asking questions. You will learn something new about yourself with every interview, be sure to figure out where you can use it to your advantage next go ‘round.
6. Stress has to be managed and it comes from different sources. Take the time to eat properly, exercise more and meet with friends so as to establish good stress busting habits for when you return to work.
7. Helping others makes you feel confident and valued. Getting out of yourself is crucial at this time. Look around, who else could use a friendly hand. Volunteer on a committee, do charitable work or help out a friend who doesn’t have a skill they need that you have.
8. I know what you’re feeling. When you walk in other peoples’ shoes it is easier to relate and be empathetic to their situation; we’re all going through the same stuff just on different days and in different ways.
9. More education is not always necessary to get a foot up on the competition. You can start doubting your own ability when you consistently don’t get the offer after an interview. Going back to get a high school diploma at age 53 might just not be necessary… sometimes further education and another certificate is a good thing, and sometimes it isn’t.
10. Figuring out transferable skills can be tricky. It is important to know your transferable skills and to be able to make them more generic so as to apply to more companies and still meet their requirements.
11. People are happy to help if their time and expertise is not abused. If you don’t ask you don’t get. Most people genuinely like to be helpful so strategically ask friends, ex-colleagues and customers for the specific help you think they can assist you with. Be grateful.
12. Complete half finished home projects and read books you always wanted to read. Crossing tasks or books off a list can be very rewarding for some people as it offers a sense of accomplishment that might be missing from not having a project at work to undertake.
13. Some people are afraid of people in transition. Figure out early in your transition who is comfortable with you talking about your work search and who isn’t. Some people are threatened by your status and transfer the fear factor onto their own inevitability. You might even run into discourteous people like the woman who put her business cards away at a networking function when she found out Leona was in transition… ‘I can’t help you, don’t call me’ seemed to be her message.
14. This is the perfect time to figure out your work values and dream company. Transition is a time to feel, not just think. Take the time to write down what you really love about the work you do, what environment you work best in, what your motivators are and how these things all make you feel.
15. Develop friendships, get out of the house and do things for yourself. This is your time, make the most of it. Expand your horizons, socialize, blaze new trails, make a mark in society as you may never have the time to do so again.
Leona said she is particularly touched by the thoughtfulness of people who have shared job postings with her and called to check up on how she is doing without even asking. What you give out comes back ten fold, remember that.
Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer
Author of Networking How To Build
Relationships That Count and How To Get A Job and Keep It