Your Out-of-Work Story and You

The Right Way to Tell Your Out-of-Work Story.” I’ve had this post from the Harvard Business Review open in a tab for a few days because I thought I could make a funny (“funny”) post out of it—riffing on other ways to frame your long period of unemployment (uh, bring in the latest jobs report?).

But I keep looking it at and leaving it and then looking at it and leaving it and here is the thing: It’s not funny, it just fucking sucks. A lot of people are out of work, and their only chance to get hired might be to pretend they’ve been having the time of their lives while applying for jobs and being depressed. (But if by any chance they have been having the time of their lives, they better keep mum: “Remember that in most industries “traveling” and other unprofessional hobbies are not practical skills, so try to suppress the urge to share your wanderlust on your resume.”)

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3 Comments / Post A Comment

Greenbeans (#3,048)

Oh, Logan, this is me. This is me! In so many complicated ways. But also not me at all. I voluntarily quit my last job and that is a tough thing to explain to people in this economy. The job I quit was, by any objective standards, exploiting me. I stayed. I stayed until it started to affect my physical and mental health, and then I stayed a little longer than that, and then I quit without another job lined up. It is tough for me to explain to people because the story makes me sound ungrateful. I’m changing careers, so I try to spin it as a happy “it was the FIELD that was wrong for me” story but I just know that the bitterness is in there, under every word I say.

When I turn 26 (soon) I will lose my parents’ health insurance, so I’m on a pretty intense deadline. Must not be bitter! Must not be bitter! The job that I quit, while it did provide me with a salary, was a contract job with no benefits (and no contact, but that’s another story) so it was never going to save me from this particular inevitability.

Weasley (#1,419)

blargh My dad was out of work after being laid off (along with 60% of his department) for about a year and it was super frustrating for him when interviewers would focus so heavily on why he was out of work for so long why is he applying to this job that is lower than his previous experience. It was just like, “Have you been paying attention to the economy and realizing that real people are being affected by it in detrimental ways? That’s why I’ve been out of work for so long and why I’m applying to this job.”

Trilby (#191)

I lost my job in Feb. 2010, and I am in that group of “older” job seekers who are having a particularly tough time. Luckily I have a great resume as a paralegal and job listings were plentiful. I got lots of interviews but wasn’t getting offers. I attributed it at least partly to age discrimination.

Here’s the thing– a very bright recruiter had a long talk with me about an interview I had scheduled. He told me I had to be extremely positive in how I presented myself. He said when that ask about your last job tell them “It was a great job. I loved it there! The people I worked with were fantastic! I would never have left but sadly the whole department got downsized!” And I did that. And it worked.

Think about: what kind of person would you want to hire? A crabby person with scores of gripes, or a sunny positive person who loves her job and her co-workers? It’s a no-brainer.

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