Navigating the in-between: tips for managing the time between jobs

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Patrick Lyon Veirum

Consultant, Denmark


+45 30 31 14 55

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Being without a job can be stressful for many reasons, whether financial or personal. As consultants, we often see personal issues or, more importantly, experience the different emotional stages in people, such as denial over what happened, embarrassment, sadness, anger, and going from action mode to giving up hope. Overall, different stages can come and go – and may return.

Compass Human Resources Group has been in business for more than 40 years, and we have seen crises coming and going many times. Low performers in one company can be high performers in another. In other words, do not let one mishap or event define you.

However, thinking positively is easier said than done, so we have made some suggestions on managing the tense period between jobs. A period with the proper actions will help you keep your sanity, learn something about yourself and make the right decision for your career. And perhaps even make this a good time of your life too.

Tip no. 1: Plan your week

To keep the structure in the day-to-day, we highly recommend that you plan your week. Here is an example of how your week could look.

Monday: Search job sites and social media
Do desk research on companies and relevant contact persons relevant to the job you are applying for.

Tuesday: Adjust your CV to each job you will apply for
Use the same wording as found in the job advert or website. Send your applications. Keep them short and to the point. Make a list to know when they have been sent and save the adverts.

Thursday: Map your network – not just LinkedIn but remember sports clubs, parent groups and school friends
Learn about your network. Read business papers – your local library will stock them for a week or two. Identify target companies you would like to work for. Read about companies with new management.

Friday: Apply for unsolicited jobs from yesterday’s target list
As preparation for interviews, list your results, learnings, skills etc.

Tip no. 2: Make this a pleasant period too

You may have noticed that the above plan only has four working days. The reason for that is that you should take time out for yourself. Go to the gym in the morning, visit a museum, go to your favourite café and read magazines, read a book, be a super mom or super dad and pick up the children early – whatever makes you happy.

To motivate yourself to apply for jobs and inspire others at an interview you should fuel yourself with positive energy. Treat yourself. Do what you would not or could not do without a full-time job. This is vital to your job search, so do not feel guilty on your days off.

Tip no. 3: Think out of the box

Most of us have experienced the hardship of applying for jobs – the rejections. So, if we keep doing the same and follow the recipe in our application, it is not farfetched to conclude that we will get the same result.

That is why we strongly urge you to think outside the box.

You can send a video presentation of yourself or change the graphic design of your CV. Consider revisiting your goals and reminding yourself that companies employ people with specific skills rather than what they dream of. Be flexible, be bold, but still professional. Use your network and ask for feedback on your ideas before going too wild.

Go out and get inspired!

Tip no. 4: Target your applications

Say you would like to work for a large international company and apply for a job that might not be your dream, but you see it as an entry. Next month you see your dream job at the same company being open and apply for that too. Unfortunately, many people need to consider that they create an application history, which is visible to HR departments.

Suppose a candidate applies for two very different jobs. In that case, the HR consultant or hiring manager may need clarification on what motivates the candidate, their skills, and what entry-level they fit. Uncertainty rarely puts you on top of the recruiter’s list.

Tip no. 5: Practice interviewing

Think a few steps ahead and focus not only on the application. This is just the first part of the process. When applying for multiple jobs (as one does when in between jobs), things can move quickly, and you can find yourself invited to job interviews very quickly and have very little time to prepare. Therefore, we recommend that you practice. Set yourself in the position of your potential new employer. What do you think they might ask you? Do you have some gaps or details in your CV that needs to be explained? Have an explanation ready.

On a more practical note, are you prepared for a virtual job interview? Do you know how to work in Microsoft Teams or Zoom? If there are technical issues, it can quickly waste valuable time with the interviewer, and they might get a messy or negative impression of you. Try to remove this barrier beforehand.

It is a familiar thing that you, as an applicant, must be aware of your appearance when meeting a potential new employer. But after the pandemic and the rise of virtual job interviews, you must also prepare your surroundings. Where will you sit? If you are sitting in your living room, are you aware of what can be seen in the background? Have you made sure you can sit undisturbed and no spouses, children or dogs can interrupt you?

These notions might be simple, but they add up and are essential to your job search.

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