If ‘jobless need not apply’… don’t be ‘jobless’!
4 Tips to Eliminate the Appearance of ‘Joblessness’ in Your Job Search
You are more employable when you are employed. It may seem unfair, but from the employer’s perspective, it’s generally true. Kind of like a 7th grade dance — you are more attractive if some else has already chosen you. With so many talented Americans out of work, employers seek evermore ways to screen out leagues of us and save themselves time and money before they even begin the process. Hence, the emerging trend of job postings stating ‘jobless candidates need not apply’. According to a February 17 Yahoo.com article “Help Wanted — Jobless Need Not Apply’ by Zachary Roth, since last summer several news reports including the Huffington Post and the Charlotte Observer have uncovered numerous online job postings that require candidates be employed during the application process. It’s not legal, but as Roth states, no one officially tracks how many job openings explicitly bar the unemployed. But here’s my question… who tells employers you are jobless? Almost always, it’s you! So, here are four tips for pitching your talent without making it immediately evident that you are currently unemployed.
Don’t Date Yourself. On your resume, instead of chronicling what you used to do for other companies by listing your formal work history, focus on the qualifications you bring for your current job target. Consider what employers need to know to choose to hire you, then set out to prove you have what they need and will make them significantly more than you will cost them. Whether you use a chronological or other resume style, consider using timeframes instead of actual dates, i.e., 2000 to 2009 becomes 9 years, or 6+ years in a case where the employer asks for 6 years of experience. These chunks show your expertise and experience without revealing a current, or any, gap, plus they allow you to present your most relevant experience regardless of when you gained it, and ratchet-down stints that might make you appear over qualified.
Tout your ‘Experience’. Building on the idea above, another way to fill a current gap is to include volunteerism, family responsibilities, hobbies, life experience, education, and more. Craft a resume focused on your qualifications for the job, even if they were gained in non-employment or unpaid settings. At the bottom, create an ‘Experience’ section, and account for your time using actual dates or timeframes. For example, ‘Elder Care, Private Home, Los Angeles, CA, 4 years’ was how we represented the ‘experience’ of a 20-something job seeker I once worked with who cared for her ailing grandmother.
Get off the paper trail. Employers hire people, not paper, so get out and represent yourself in person. Currently, the ‘front door’ to decision makers is guarded and crowded, but you can find ‘side doors’ that allow you to get to and impress decision makers before you submit a resume or even let them know you are seeking work. Side doors include getting introductions in a social or business setting, attending industry or company events, volunteering, approaching them as a customer or expert, and more. Just be sure when you make the connection that you establish your value before you let them know you ‘respect the company and would love to be part of the team’.
Don’t act ‘jobless’. Remove the terms ‘unemployed, looking for work, job seeking,’ and the like from your vocabulary, and replace them with ‘exploring a career change, interested in building a career in the … industry, passionate about the company and becoming part of the team, looking to use my talent to make the company a lot of money’, etc. Perhaps we are more attractive when we are already employed, but acting as if you have already been chosen can go a long way to helping employers see your value.
If you can play within the employer’s rules and win, go for it. If by following the rules you are likely to get screened out, then bend the rules! What have you got to lose? These tips can help you avoid the screen out and land the job. Learn more in the newly released ‘The 6 Reasons You’ll Get the Job’ (foreword by Richard Bolles, author of ‘What Color is Your Parachute?’).