It sure crept up on you awfully fast, didn’t it? You have absolutely no idea that much time could pass since you were working. It just kind of crept up on you. After you lost your job, you took a little time off because you “hadn’t had a vacation in a while.” Then you started casually looking around thinking, “last time I looked for a job, it didn’t take me that long.” It took six or seven months for you to all of a sudden get serious about finding a job and then, all of a sudden, you found out how darned difficult it was to do.
So, now you’re beginning to get interviews because the economy is getting a little better and you have to try to explain why it’s taken so long for you to find a job or why you have been out of work so long. After the first couple of interviews like this, you really understand that an employer is very cautious, even dubious about the fact that you’ve been out of work so long and will normally discount all of your excuses. You will have caught on that a hiring authority is much more likely to want to hire someone who is either presently employed or, if unemployed, for only a short period of time. Every time you go to explain you become more and more self-conscious and you can literally see the doubt on the hiring authority’s face. Since most of them have not been out of work that long or even experienced that kind of thing, they have absolutely no idea the challenge you have had. In fact, their attitude is, “What’s wrong with this person?” They think, “There’s got to be something wrong with somebody who can’t find a job in a whole year.” And then they move on to the next candidate.
There isn’t much you can do about this attitude, except when you get the chance to get in front of them for an interview you cannot try to make excuses for being out of work for a year, blame the economy, etc. You must take full responsibility for it by saying something along the line of, “I really had no idea it would be this difficult to find a job. In years past when I’ve looked for positions, I’ve always been able to find one relatively rapidly. I have been actively getting as many interviews as I possibly can. (It is not a bad idea to have on hand the names of the companies that you have interviewed with or the kinds of positions you have interviewed for.) I have come close on a couple of opportunities and decided to pass on a couple of others because I didn’t think it was a good opportunity for the company I was interviewing with or for myself. I want to be very careful to be sure that the next opportunity is a long-term one.” Then, shut up about why you’ve been looking for a job for so long and ask questions of the employer about the present position you are interviewing for. It’s that simple.
If you do anything other than this, it is going to dig a deeper hole of doubt, uncertainty and fear on the part of the hiring authority regarding you as a candidate. If you make excuses, you’ll sound like a whiner. If you go on and on about why you started so late to look for a job and express the bad luck in getting interviews, you simply won’t look like a wise business person. Most every way you try to explain this problem will be very treacherous. The “mea culpa”, simple quick statement above is the best way to do it.
If anyone has come up with some great “lip loads” to deal with this issue, please share them with us.