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 back to work after a long stretch of not
working, but are worried it might not last. Thus, their fears
prevent them from performing as well as they could.
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
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
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.