Five Ways to Beat “No Job/No Job” Discrimination

No one is a bigger fan of HR (and all that it can do to make the world a better place) than I am.  But sometimes I want to take it by the shoulders and holler, “What can you possibly be thinking?  Waddya nuts?”   In this particular case I’m talking about the prevailing trend of discriminating against people who are out of work in their hiring practices.  I’m not saying that everyone does it. But enough people are doing it for the newspapers to be writing about it…and for an anti-discrimination provision to be written into the new jobs bill.

In this era of unprecedented lay-offs of so many really great people (which might include you), that’s just so wrong.  Oh, and stupid.  Just because that person over there has managed to keep his job is no guarantee that his IQ is any higher than a kielbasa’s.  So let’s just say that if you’re out of work through no fault of your own, and you’re having trouble landing interviews, I’m totally on your side here.

So let’s see how we can get around this business of you being between jobs.

  1. Understand that this discrimination is not about you.  Maybe it’s about their fear of hiring someone else’s cast-offs.  Maybe it’s some old vestige of an outdated automated resume tracking system that needs to be reprogrammed to be more welcoming of people with resume gaps.  Maybe the recruiters are just devoid of all imagination. Either way, it’s no reflection of your value to the working world out there.  Small consolation, I know, but at least it might take the sting out of the stories you tell yourself with all this annoying extra time you have on your hands now.
  2. Take away the risk of bringing you in for a meeting. One of the most interesting pieces of selling wisdom I’ve ever heard is that prospects are largely motivated by the fear of making the wrong decision. So take away the fear of meeting you, making the first meeting about something other than a job interview. Find a way to be your target’s peer – not someone desperate for work.  Assign yourself an industry or professional research project/white paper that would require a meeting in which you’re the one interviewing your target for information.  (Actually write the thing and publish it online. That will give you another reason to contact the person.)
  3. Don’t be a stranger.  You’ll have to use your imagination here, but there are so many other ways to meet your targets than simply sending a resume to an online destination and crossing your fingers.  Get active in the professional associations they belong to (Linked In is a great source for that kind of information).  Find someone who knows someone who knows someone who can introduce you.  Find out what kind of help your targets need and offer it.
  4. Hire yourself. What’s stopping you from starting your own business, LLC’ing it, and putting yourself to work?  Yes, I recognize that entrepreneurialism takes a separate kind of dedication (believe me, I’ve been doing this since 1989).  This is what I’m talking about:  Pick a company name that’s not your own, hop on an online legal site like Legal Zoom, get the paperwork done, and give yourself a title that’s close to the kind of title you’re seeking out there in the work-a-day world.  And then put yourself to work, taking on projects that keep you busy keeping your resume fresh and up to date. Is this being dishonest? Only if you don’t get out there marketing yourself with every intention of landing assignments (it’s much easier snagging short-term assignments than full-time jobs right now).  You may discover that you have a knack for this free-agent life.  (What’s so secure about a full-time job, anyway? You’ve already seen that full-time job security is an illusion.  And there’s a lot to be said for being the captain of your own career ship — which you are anyway, like it or not. Seth Godin has an interesting blog on this subject here.)
  5. Own your career path. You’re not just someone who is out of work.  You are someone who is bringing to the marketplace a set of skills, contacts, wisdom and passion for the work you do.  Careerwise, you’re not what you don’t have (a job), you are what you bring to the table – the value you offer to your clients and employers.  Keep that in your mind and heart and you’ll remain an insider in your own professional community.  And you will be the obvious choice when the right opportunity opens up – which will be soon.
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