Earlier today, I was working on the Executive profile of a Senior Finance professional. Amazing guy, from the GCC, a litany of qualifications and solid industry experience. However for some reason, he has been unemployed for the last 7 months.
One of the requests when he approached us was, how do I explain my gap to the employer and what can I do to avoid further damage on my profile in light of the current circumstances?
This got me thinking… that it can happen to anyone and perhaps the higher up on the ladder you are the fewer the opportunities. You may be willing to compromise and still may be over qualified or not fit for the positions available. What could you do in such situations?
I have come up with 6 potential areas of enrichment.
1. Take up voluntary or pro-bono consulting. It may not pay, but it is a bonafide occupation that you can most definitely include in your CV. Non-profit Board service or strategic know-how is now increasingly being sought as many corporates have huge CSR budgets.
2. Learn a new course – online! No, not necessarily the degree type, but course providers like Lynda.com, Coursera and many others offer inexpensive ways to invest your time and get certified in return. Increasingly recruiters require certifications as evidence of Continuous Professional Development and unless you can demonstrate constant investment and re-investment in yourself, decades of going through 9am to 5pm motions may not be really helpful.
3. Contribute to co-authoring a book, paper or cultivate a following on sites such as Quora where you can mould your image as an Opinion Leader. You may also learn new things you don’t already know.
4. Think time: money as opposed to surviving: money. Sometimes unemployment may be the best time to reorganize your priorities, take control of your life once again, take a step backward to take two forward or even consider whether to start the entrepreneurial journey. Once you snap out of the “employee mind-set” where survival = a pay package at the end of the month and get the “entrepreneurial temperament” where your hours = richness or money earned, life is wonderful. I must admit I am also slowly cultivating this temperament. You are in competition with no one except yourself and your time as always was becomes your biggest ASSET.
5. Make a Fantastic Five group. One of the things I assiduously follow and recommend is forming a group of five mentors who inspire you for some form of excellence they have achieved. They can be personal or professional in nature with the thumb rule being that 3 of 5 of those people must be those you can regularly take guidance from as their mentee. The remaining two can be aspirational like world leaders or someone you admire.
6. Reach-out: Use the spare time to connect and network. Call, mail or seek referrals to meet the maximum number of people who may be able to help you out. Sometimes getting up, showing up and speaking up can make the BIG difference
All the very best!