How long will I be unemployed?

When we lose our job, our first concern is usually: ‘How long will I be unemployed?’ closely followed by How will I pay the bills if I’m out of work for an extended period of time?’.

You hear all the terrible statistics, how bad things are in the economy and how difficult it is to find a job, but what is the reality?

What variables will impact my ability to get my next job?

Those most conspicuous to job seekers:

  1. Profession – Some professions are changing and others are simply disappearing. Many managers used to have a dedicated Personal Assistant…Today, such resources are either shared among several managers or are done without. Other professions disappearing include printers, production workers and roles in call centres and first-level IT support which are increasingly being off-shored to more economical locations. If you are in or have come from a declining profession, you may want to look at undertaking some self-development and moving to a new profession based on newly-learnt and/or transferable skills.

  2. Industry – Think retail and the impact of on-line shopping. Automotive, mining, aviation, IT and manufacturing industries are also seeing headcount reductions. You may need to look at other related industries as options during job search and again looking at the transferable skills you have.

  3. Age – If you are very young or of a more ‘mature’ age, you may find yourself in job search longer. Those over 55 can expect to be out of work around 72 weeks on average. You can’t change your age and the fact is, people within organisations may discriminate against you based on your age, albeit indirectly. If that’s the case, you don’t want to work for those companies! Fortunately there are many others who would welcome your skills, professional experience and wherewithal.

  4. Location – If you live outside a major city you are likely to find it more difficult to get your next role. There are more jobs in major locations (and of course, more competition) and very often, smaller towns rely on one or a few large employers to provide jobs. If they go, the jobs go too…In that case, you may want to consider (5) below.

  5. Mobility – If you are prepared to move to find work, then understandably you cast your net further and the chances of finding a job are logically increased. The trade off may be disruption to family and disconnection from established social networks so this does not work for everyone.

  6. Gender – Generally the unemployment rate for women is higher than that for men. Similar as age, if a company discriminates based on gender, then they are reducing their available pool of candidates by 50%…Not a smart business and one you probably would not want to work for anyway!

  7. State of the economy – If there is ‘confidence’ in the economy, spending increases and businesses are more buoyant and look to grow and hire more staff. Even in down times there are still jobs available, and those who go the extra yard will get the job ahead of the passive job-seeker.

  8. State of mind – If you stay upbeat, positive and enthusiastic, despite the setbacks faced in job search you will move to your next job sooner. You will be able to confidently convey your skills, experiences and knowledge and do so with the right frame of mind. Needless to say, negative people are their own worst enemy in job search. No one wants to hire Eeyore the pessimistic, negative character from Winnie the Pooh! Unfortunately, I regularly see mature job-seekers create their own barriers in job search by verbalising things like, ‘No one would want to hire someone my age.’ Think it and it will be!

  9. Personality – If you are shy and introverted (or at an extreme ‘socially phobic’) then generally you may find it takes longer to find your next role. This is simply on the premise that you find it harder to ‘get out there’ and to perform well in interviews as well as tapping into the ‘hidden job market’ via networking. Don’t miss the opportunity to use networking as a key part of your job search. It does not have to be uncomfortable or awkward, but rather treated as a business meeting which most of us are familiar with. Also remember that most people you meet WANT TO HELP YOU, so this should further allay any concerns.

  10. Time of year – Generally you won’t find a lot of jobs during the summer holiday season. Frustratingly, there always seems to be excuses ‘not to hire’ at certain times of the year (e.g. Easter, before/after the end of the financial year and so on). While there are fewer jobs, there are jobs available and it’s also a great time to network as recently returned or yet-to-leave hiring managers will have more time and inclination to speak with you.

  11. Full or part time – We’ll potentially see more part time and casual jobs in the future as companies become less inclined to hire (commit to) permanent full-time employees. However, at present, most jobs on the market are full time and suitable part time jobs are challenging – but not impossible – to come by…It’s all about creating the need in the eyes of the employer and getting into the market via networking!

  12. Educational level attained – While it’s tough to get any job, generally the less well-qualified you are, the more difficult it is to find another role. In saying that, most employers are interested in the experience and skills (value) you bring to the table rather than educational qualifications alone.

  13. Currency of skills – You may have skills, but if they are no longer in demand then you will find less demand for them. You may be great at manning the toll booth on the motorway, unfortunately these skills and also the role have been superseded by technology. However, as a toll collector you also have great skills with customers, cash handling and reconciliation, and technology among others…Where else can these skills be put to good use? Get out there and find out!

  14. Self-development – If you are willing to ‘go back to school’ or to undertake other development (to up-skill or pursue another vocation), you logically give yourself more chance of landing a role that you want. It’s a case of one step back to take two forward…

  15. Luck – Yes, that’s right, luck, L-U-C-K! Very often job search is about being in the right place, meeting the right person at the right time. You can create your own luck in job search by getting out from behind your computer and meeting people! The more people you meet, the more information you discover which may potentially lead to a new role. Very often, companies don’t have time to advertise jobs or place them with recruiters, with the result that they ‘get by’ being under-staffed (with concomitant impacts). Put yourself out there in order to be found!

Unemployment is a fact of life and affects many people. The way you address and respond to your period of unemployment is critical in determining how long you will be out of work!

In my experience you will give yourself a significantly greater chance to land your next job in a shorter space of time simply by being ACTIVE in job search.

Don’t be passive, slouched over your computer sending off applications to already over-subscribed jobs or harried recruiters. Meet up with a few good recruiters, but predominantly get out and meet people (networking) and structure your days and weeks to incorporate high quality job search (along with some balance to spend time with family and friends and to plan time for yourself). If you do these things, you can effectively counter a lot of the variables mentioned earlier and be able to move into your next role sooner.

Click here to contact Paul Di Michiel (The Career Medic) who can help you in your job search and offer guidance on how to get your next role sooner including resumes, LinkedIn profiles and interviewing.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s

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