I often hear this question. Realistically, I see two kinds of people. Those who we wonder why they would ever remain unemployed and those we know why they’re unemployed. Here are some of the top reasons that you might be remaining unemployed.
First, let’s look at some of the reasons that people become unemployed.
1). Simple lay-off. Sometimes people are just laid off – even ones that are highly valued by the organization. This often happens if the company merges, is acquired, or goes out of business. There is often not a choice process at all. The best people may get the axe. This is something you cannot do anything about. If you were a top employee, and highly valued, it is likely that someone else will highly value you, as well, if you get in front of them.
Your job now is to get out there. Build your network. Join a group that has a ready-made network, like we do. Become well known and well networked, and you should be working in no time.
2). You were selected for lay-off. But sometimes, a lay-off is just a nice way of firing you. You may not have done anything egregious enough for getting fired, but you weren’t one of the people selected to stay, either. Some of the following reasons might apply to you.
3). You got complacent. You might have been too complacent in your job. You might have not had the energy or the drive you once had that got you to the position you held.
4). You got incompetent. Maybe you were making mistakes on the job. You might not have been paying attention like you should have to the details and intracasies of your job. Pay better attention and don’t make so many mistakes at your next job.
5). You looked and acted old. There still is age discrimination in most corporations. But you could have well contributed to that. If you are able, dye your hair to look a little younger (but don’t make it completely dyed….keep a little of the gray. There are products on the market that help you do this.) Work out in the gym. Even if you’re overweight, like I am, working out a few times a week will make you look younger because it tones the skin and muscles. You aren’t going to look like Aaahnold, but you will look better.
6). You are a smoker. Stop smoking. I have heard top executives tell me that they won’t hire someone who smokes. Smoking makes you look much older, and interferes with your productivity. Stop it.
7). You are a large person. I, of all people, know how hard it is to lose weight. Do whatever you can to lose weight. Size discrimination is rampant in our society. It is wrong and sick. But it exists.
You might not ever get to be, like those anorexic models on TV, a size two, but even dropping 10% of body weight will make you look better and more energetic, even if you aren’t.
8). You are a special needs executive. There are some of our clients who need their hands held, and can’t seem to get even simple concepts. We call them our “special needs CEOs.”
We truly wonder how some folks ever made it up the corporate ladder, because we aren’t sure that they know how to tie their shoelaces (this is, perhaps, why they wear loafers?). They’ve become so dependent on delegating and assistants that they cannot do much for themselves. Shoot, I’d lay them off, too!
9). You are an a**hole. There seems to be a value in some parts of corporate America that the executives need to be jerks. While most of the top level executives I’ve worked with are the nicest people in the world (and have become good friends as we’ve worked together), a very few are just plain jerks. Evaluate yourself, or have an objective person evaluate you. Your behavior might be demanding, entitled, childish, or tyrannical. If this is so, you deserved to be laid off or fired. Change your behavior and learn to be a human being.
10). You are behind the times. I know one executive who scoffs at LinkedIn and other social networking venues. We’ve offered to teach him time and again, and he just doesn’t buy this “new stuff.”
He’s lucky that he’s in a position of working for himself, because if he were in a corporation, he’d be out, out, out. If you don’t like “newfangled contraptions” like computers, or can’t work on-line…you deserve to be put out to pasture. Get over it and learn the new stuff!
11). You wouldn’t play politics! This is the top, number one reason that executives get laid off! Yet every executive I work with says they hate playing politics. Oh well. It is a necessary part of the corporate world. Don’t want to play politics? Go live on a desert island.
Here are some ways to get re-employed.
1). Modify your behavior. If your behavior was what got you fired or laid off, modify it. The best advice I can give you? Hire a coach now! People are notoriously bad at modifying their own behavior. That is why I have trusted business advisors, a personal trainer, and other coaches that help me to be my best.
Your personality may impose some limitations. Your physical state may impose others. Work with what you have to be the best you that you can be.
Don’t be a cheap so and so about the coach, either. Hire the best coach you can find, and pay their fee with a smile. If they’re truly skilled, they will return that investment to you many-fold.
2). Learn to play politics well. Again, hire a coach now! You need to learn to play politics and play it well if you want to get ahead in the corporate world. That is the game of corporations and, if you want to be in corporations, you are going to need to play. The question is not whether you should play politics or not, but, rather, how well you play.
Corporate politics is a strategic game of chess. Play it well and get ahead. Play it poorly and get laid off or fired again.
I spend a great deal of my time in executive coaching teaching people the political game and how it is played. Why? It is probably the most important skill an executive can have.
3). Network well. You should have been networking all the time you were employed, but you didn’t, did you? Well, now you’re going to have to. And if you want a job anytime soon, you’re going to have to have a large network and work it well.
Buy one. Find someplace that (like us) has a very large, ready-made network, with a person or people who are willing to introduce you to members of the network and help you get employed. Don’t be cheap on this, either. Look into the background of anyone who claims to have a large network and see what it is. Those who have been in business for 10 years or longer are the best people to look to for a network. These take time to build, and a “newbie” isn’t going to have the network.
Build your own network, as well. Although you won’t be able to, by yourself, build a large enough network to get employed rapidly, you should start on building your network now. Get very active on LinkedIn. Go to networking events. Build on the ready-made network. Get introduced to others through friends and colleagues.
Then keep networking when you’re employed! If you don’t know how to network, hire a coach. This is another one of those essential skills that you must have and do exceptionally well in today’s world.
4). Interview well. Once you get an interview don’t blow it! Remember, they’ll never tell you why you didn’t get the offer. And, no, you’re not a good interviewer, no matter what you think. And no, you didn’t “come in second.” Besides, even if you were second, that doesn’t give you a job. Again hire a coach! Get good at interviewing.
And this is not a perfunctory thing where you go through a couple of mock interviews and get critiqued. Our interview training with our top clients takes between 20 and 100 hours, depending on how rapidly they learn, in addition to them watching 2 DVD discs on interviewing and being interviewed by their peers. Interview training is one of the most important (and grueling) things I do as a transition coach. That is for a reason. It is vital to getting a job. Duh.
5). Turn networking meetings into interviews. Networking is useless unless it is turned into something eventually. You aren’t just networking to meet people. You are networking to get something, as well as give something.
Most networkers don’t go for the jugular. Instead, they try to be “polite” and “nice.” This doesn’t get you jobs. See Nicole’s article on asking for things boldly. Turn those networking meetings into jobs!
6). Keep your commitments. If you say you’re going to meet with someone, meet with them. You never know what a meeting will produce. I try to meet with everyone who wants to meet with me. If I can do this, as busy as I am, so can you.
And don’t balk at meeting with someone who is just starting out. I’ve, over the years, met with hundreds of young people and given them advice and help. Many of them, as they grew in their careers, gave back to me. Besides, you have a moral obligation to help young people just starting out. It is part of what you owe the community for allowing you to attain the position you’ve attained.
7). Chill on your rÃ©sumÃ©. You have a one in 500 chance of getting hired based on your rÃ©sumÃ©, so chill about it. Too many executives spend too much time on their damned rÃ©sumÃ©s, and not enough networking and doing the things that will get them employed.
Don’t send a rÃ©sumÃ© unless there is no other way to get to the hiring authority. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t respond to those job postings on job boards unless there is no other way to get to the company. You’re competing with a cast of thousands.
8). Avoid HR like the plague. HR is your worst enemy! Get to the person who can actually say “yes” to you. See my previous article to see why you want to bypass HR. (Human Resources: An Execs Worst Enemy)
9). Don’t take a vacation! It is just plain stupid to be out of town, taking a vacation, or playing with your kids or grandkids instead of looking for a job. Looking for a job is a full time job. Take it seriously!
10). Help others. Even though you are unemployed, you can still help others. Introduce people in your network to others who can help them. Give a hand whenever you are able. Pay it forward. Don’t get so focused on your own need that you forget we are all part of a community, and have an obligation to give to one another.
Free Class for Job Seekers at Every Level, June 28
(Business/Professional, Technical, Management, and Executives)
For those in the CO front range who are still frustrated about your continued unemployment, please come to our class on June 28th, Why Am I Still Unemployed? You will learn more tips and tricks for obtaining employment rapidly, and this will be a great opportunity to network with other job seekers, who actually know where the jobs are.
Visit http://stillunemployed-ce.eventbrite.com to register.