I love disagreeing. It's like a hobby. When I was a kid, I thought I would be a lawyer when I grew up. As much as I joke about it, the driver for me isn't the need to be right. I just love dialectic; the challenge and discovery. You know, when I am not getting a stern "talking to" about taking some time off.

There are a few people that indulge me when it comes to these kinds of conversations. The kind where they are wrong and I am right. Oops. I mean, the ones where I learn and defend; I'm open to changing my mind. Except about the Hasselhoff/Germany thing. I will always think that is weird.

Nick Corcodillos is one of those people. His opinions are frequently head-scratchers for me. And I like it. He writes things that I never would have thought of and while I think through his "argument", it helps me work through mine. I always learn something. So...if i may submit to the court...

Advice for the Long-Term Unemployed

Oh boy. I'm gonna try to not be a butt about this. But here is the thing. Well, things. First, I am in recruiting, so I know how recruiters think/work. I know how hiring managers think/work. Second, I graduated from a top enterpreneur program. Excuse me for a second while I get a good chuckle out of the ads that were served up when I searched the rankings. For products of the little blue pill variety. It's not irony, it's just, like.yeah, I get it. And i kind of  hate myself for referring to my program that way. I recall a ranty blog post about people making those kinds of references. Anyway,  my point being that I was taught by some of the besty-bests.I have looked at a bajillion resumes and I have written a business plan. So. Here is the thing. Writing a business plan as a tactic for getting a job is crazypants.I am just here to be the truth-teller. Don't wear the crazypants, friends. I'll break it down:

1) Entrepreneurship 101: You start with the concept. See an opportunity for a product or service and then take advantage of it. But sitting around thinking "what kind of business can I start?' is silly. Yeah. So people that are entrepreneurially  (so not a word) inclined might enter a program; and for sure they are keeping their eyes open for that opportunity. But what they don't do is say "Hey, I think I will write a business plan, to get a job" and unless you have that start-up fire, the business plan will be bleh.

2) Writing a business plan is a huge amount of work. Huge. So for the job seeker, investing that much time in an activity like this that is a super-long-shot probably isn't wise. Especially when there are so many other activities that have a higher chance of working.

3) In most situations, you aren't going to get the hiring manager's attention in the first place. Most folks don't spend time reading random unsolicited business plans. The stuff that actually gets to potential investors is the good stuff, written by someone serious about starting something. You're either in or your out. And if i was starting a new business, and someone offered me a job, I'd be all "thanks but I got this thing here I want to do so why don't you just give me some money?" and then I would be all "hmm, self, can *I* fund this because this guy wants a piece of the pie and did you see my awesome idea? I want the pie....I want it all." 

So, I don't know, the business plan thing in the context of looking for a job just makes me uncomfortable. Just because it worked for someone once, doesn't mean it's good advice. I don't want to be a dream squasher.  So, I'll toss a few things out there. Because, in my opinion, most people (not you of course) really don't know how to effectively look for a new job. I know it's easy for me to say sitting over here. But my point is that there is usually more you can do; stuff you haven't thought of. And I'll be the person to tell you what that is.

  • First thing you need to know...recruiters don't spend a long time looking at resumes. They just don't . I mean, they spend a lot of time looking at resumeS but not A resume. They usually start out with a keyword search of some type: in a resume database, an online tool, a search engine. They have their business qualifications in mind. And they look at each resume and do the yes/no/maybe thing. Big question marks on the resume are gonna get you a no, possibly a maybe under extreme circumstances. It's a sucky reality of the recruiting business; we have to spend our time pursuing the people that most closely match the position. Almost all of us got into this business because we like people. Or at least that is why we stay in this business. We WANT to help you, but in order to get people jobs, we have to work with the people that we can most likely place. And so my point is that a huge gap in employment doesn't make you the most likely candidate. So, your focus needs to be filling that gap. With something.
  • Stay active. Duh. But I mean this in the professional sense: user or professional groups. Look, I know going to some of these things could make you want to punch yourself in the face. But just think, someone else in the room wants to punch themselves in the face too. And maybe they can hire you. OK, seriously, you never know who you will meet at those things. You can also do some non-profit work or something with your kids' school. You are making connections and filling the gap. We get it...we know what the economy is like. Just show us that you are doing something. Sheesh, while you were writing that business plan, you could have been filling the gap!
  • Also, keep in mind that the person that is likely to take a chance on you (so same advice for career changers here) is someone that already knows you. Reach deep into those networks. Work for free if you have to. Do a lesser job than you could be doing. You are filling that gap. Filler up.
  • And include it on the resume. Don't try to hide stuff with dates. Counter to what some would have you believe, recruiters are, by and large, a pretty smart group. So just include it. Address it in a professional sense, but don't go nuts. "Engaged in non-profit work while on hiatus", "Taking classes toward certification in <whatever>".
  • Git yo self on LinkedIn. My little tip, that I have shared with many a job seeking friend (and let me tell you something, I know LinkedIn backwards and forwards...just ask) is to engage folks with less experience than you. Find them on LinkedIn, and ask if they will talk to you about how they got into that company. Don't make it all "I need a job so please help me". You are exploring career options. And that company came to your attention. This person with less experience is more likely to spare the time, they can at least give you some scoop on how to best get the attention of the right people. And they know about those more senior level jobs. Flatter them a little (just a little). See where that conversation goes.

I am sure I'll have more ideas to share with you.  And please feel free to ask questions. I've been there. I have TOTALLY been there (thanks economy of the early 90s!). I'll pop back as more things come to mind. Maybe a series of posts on using LinkedIn.