One of the things I was most surprised by when I got into the jobs business over a decade ago was the prevalence and practice of age discrimination in hiring right here in the USA. Oh, sure... we're not like some overseas markets where job ads explicitly demand youth, or a particular gender, or beauty(!), in the applicant, but there it is...
The one-year anniversary of unemployment is rarely a cause for celebration.
Every day I hear from executives — top men and women in their fields — who are going through extended unemployment. They have not had a bite ... even a nibble.
Some of these people have had freelance or consulting assignments. Others dabbled with the idea of “reinventing” themselves. The plain truth is: The higher up the ladder you are, the longer it seems it takes to find work — much more so during a recession.
Unemployment and underemployment for top-paid executives is a sign of the times. As a “jobconomist, ” I see it staying this way through 2010.
The prolonged pain of this recession makes those unemployed for a year or more even more depressed.
Executives who are unemployed for such an extended term become understandably frustrated. Then that frustration turns into depression, and depression becomes bitterness. You begin second-guessing, questioning everything about yourself and your efforts to find work.
That’s the beginning of the cycle. Who wants to hire a depressed executive?
If you fit this description and are feeling hopeless, let me tell you it is possible to break this cycle of rejection.
You can turn your fate around in your favor and get more interviews and eventually land inspiring, challenging jobs.
Stop blaming your tools
Have you ever noticed how $100K+ executives always blame their "resumes" for lack of interviews? Most of these same people have paid to have their resumes professionally prepared.
But it’s not them.
After their resumes, what's the next excuse of these executives? Come on, you know: age...followed by money ... the very fact that you were making $100K+. These are your (former) excuses.
It’s not them, it’s you
These are all excuses for what the real problem may be: you — and your attitude .
Your legitimately depressed emotional state has permeated everything you touch. Even the way you have crafted your resume or let it be crafted.
The way you network, the way you interview. After one year of being unemployed, you have bought in to the defeatist attitude. The only thing worse than being unemployed for more than a year is to be the spouse or partner of the person who has been unemployed.
When you have been unemployed for one year or more, the change will only come when you are willing to admit that you are helpless to find a job.
Once you face the fact that there is something about you that is holding you back from finding work, you can move forward with a new plan of action and a changed attitude.
Here are my recommendations for positive change if you’re in the One-Year-Unemployed club:
Step 1: Admit you have a real problem finding a job.
Do not blame the resume; do not blame your age, past salary or the economy. Blame your attitude.
Step 2: Work to change that attitude.
Step 3: Work harder.
That means sacrifice and re-engineer your thinking process. No vacations. You should not be rewarding yourself for not finding work. Just the opposite.
Step 4: Change your bitter attitude.
Eliminative negative vocabulary words like: "Just spinning my wheels," "I am too old or experienced for this," "I cannot take a job for less than ___," or "I require this salary."
Step 5: Stop blaming the resume.
Blame yourself. You own that document. Consider your resume, no matter who did it, only a "template." Tweak that resume yourself to suit each job you pursue.
Step 6 : Look in the mirror:
Do you look like you are worth the $100K+ income you require. Shallow but true.
Do you need a Crest Whitestrips smile? What do those teeth look like? Men: Do you have inappropriate facial hair you could get away with when you were making $100K+ but can't now?
Hair color? Clothes? Handshake? Look like a million dollars, and you can get a million dollars. Shallow, yes. ...What happened to credentials? Working hard and all that? Well, you tell me! You’re the one that has been unemployed for at least a year. I am directing you as if you were in unemployed rehab. The "Betty Ford" of the unemployed. Re-engineer what you are thinking.
Step 7 : Stop leaning on your spouse or partner.
No whining or complaining. Talk very little about your job search, and when you do, bring up only the positive aspects of what you have gone through each day. Your spouse or partner is supporting you.
OK. Got it? Now, you haven’t died. Erase that old anniversary date. That was actually a new start. Try it again. A fresh attitude, a fresh start is what we all need. Go ahead and make this Day One...all over again.
Let me know what you think.