Most people are embarrassed if they are unemployed. They feel like they failed and are ashamed to talk about their current status. Or, they are
Bad things happen to the best of us. Maybe you had a job you loved and were let go. Maybe you knew your employment was going to end, or maybe it was a surprise. Maybe you are not sure who you are these days anymore because your previous job defined you. Maybe you wish things would just go back to the way they were. Maybe you hope the uncertainty will end already. The biggest fear my clients have is how do they talk about what happened in a positive way. Especially, when they are not feeling very positive about their situation. They worry they will be judged and no one will listen to their story.
You don’t have to dread the question: “Why have you been unemployed for so long?” Rather expect it, embrace it, and have an answer ready that makes both you and the interviewer, (Or anyone you are networking with), feel good about themselves.
You can’t change what people will ask you. You can change how you react to it. It’s not what happened that defines you or decreases your chances of securing a new position. Rather, it’s your words and how you convey your words, that make the biggest impact.
So, how do you talk about why you are unemployed in a powerful and impactful way? Follow These 3 Steps Below.
1. Stick With The Facts
Rather than get into he said/she said, gossip, blame, anger, or any other emotion you are feeling, just state what happened. You were let go. Your company reorganized. You got a new boss or division head that cut your department. Your position was given to someone else or outsourced. Your job was eliminated. Yes, there were consequences to your life as a result of that elimination, but how you feel about what happened is irrelevant. You are still able to do your job and do it well.
Does it hurt to lose a position? Yes. Does everyone need to know how hurt you are? No. There are people outside of your work life who can help you through your hurt feelings. A person you are interviewing or networking with is not one of them.
2. Talk About What You Have Been Doing Since You Were Let Go
Have you taken classes to update your skills? Talk about them. Have you been volunteering? Bring this up. Have you been job searching? Talk about your search, how you organize your day, contact list, interviews, follow-up. You’ve been busy; not sitting around. Just because you aren’t being paid to work, doesn’t mean you haven’t been working. Your full time job has been looking for a new job. This means something, so be proud, and do not be ashamed of your efforts.
3. Discuss How You Are A Better Person Or Employee Because Of What Has Happened To You
You are no longer the same person you were before being let go. You may feel at times that you are worse off, but the truth is you are better. You have strength because you are dealing with a situation that you once believed you would not be able to handle. You have courage because you get up every day and you keep looking. You have persistence because you keep following up with the same people over and over again. You have humility because you’ve had to ask for help. You have empathy because you know what it’s like to be in this situation. You have a different perspective because you know now that work is a piece of your life and not the whole pie. When you return to work, and YOU WILL RETURN TO WORK, you will be grateful for your job and be happy to be there; things you may not have felt before.
So, what do you say? You only have one life to live, so it might as well be a life you love!
***Deborah Brown-Volkman, PCC, is the President of Surpass Your Dreams, Inc. a successful career, life, and mentor coaching company that works with Senior Executives, Vice Presidents, and Managers who are looking for new career opportunities or seek to become more productive in their current role. She is the author of “Coach Yourself To A New Career”, “Don’t Blow It! The Right Words For The Right Job” and “How To Feel Great At Work Everyday.” Deborah can be reached at (631) 874-2877.