Regardless of your employment status, the job search is tough.
Job hunting is rarely a completely enjoyable experience. Whilst it can be exciting searching for new career opportunities and a new way of life, it's often tinged by the stresses of current employment or even unemployment.
If you're job searching whilst employed, it may seem like there aren't enough hours in a day. Going to work and returning home, only to delve into CVs, cover letters and job boards is a recipe for exhaustion.
Meanwhile, the idea of being out of work is often a terrifying concept, primarily for financial reasons but also regarding mental health. But you are not alone. As of January 2020, there are approximately 1.3 million unemployed people in the UK, and this is likely to rise in light of the coronavirus crisis.
Despite this, let us reassure you that looking for a job is a fairly standard operation, regardless of whether you're employed or unemployed. Yes, there is the stigma that if you are out of work, you will be less favourable to prospective employers. And whilst research suggests there is some truth in that, as CV experts, we have found that a subtle change in perspective and formatting of your CV is all it takes to land a job that suits you.
With that in mind, here are some important considerations when searching for a job whilst both employed and unemployed.
Consider your priorities
Life can take many unexpected turns, so believe us when we say there are a plethora of reasons people search for new jobs. Career paths rarely follow a straightforward trajectory, and employers know this, so don't be afraid to admit and own your loss – whether that's the literal loss of your job or change in priorities that has caused you to walk away from your current role.
However, even though you may be keen to move on and find a new job, watch out for levels of desperation. For example, if you feel a time pressure to find a new position, it can be all too easy to take the first opportunity that presents itself. Equally, if you think you have more wiggle room, it can be easy to be too picky.
To overcome this, you should consider your priorities.
If you are searching for a job while unemployed, it's likely that your priority will be paying your bills (unless you have a stockpile of money somewhere). Another priority may be your mental welfare, especially if you are at home most of the day with little routine or motivation.
As a result, you'll need to look for a job that you are qualified to do, even if it's not perfect. Once you have settled in your new role and stabilised, you can look for something a little more permanent and in line with your career goals.
However, if you're searching for a new job whilst employed, your priorities may differ. If you have a consistent income and comfortable life, you can likely afford to wait for a more suitable job that matches your goals and will boost your career.
Highlight your assets
Another difference between job hunting whilst employed versus unemployed is what you include on your CV. But regardless of the detail, a CV should always highlight your best, most relevant, up to date assets.
If you are unemployed, you may feel tempted to lie on your CV to mask the gap. We do not blame you. After all, studies have shown that there is potential bias from employers against applicants who are unemployed.
We suggest you own the employment gap. However, rather than leave a gaping hole in the document, fill it with achievements and learnings from your efforts in the interim. Detail the courses you took, the volunteering experiences you pursued and any further additions to your professional portfolio. Get creative with ways to highlight your assets and list them as experiences on your CV.
When looking for a job whilst employed, the core rules are the same. The difference is that most of your recent experience will be from your current position, rather than extracurricular activities. You can still add any supplemental achievements and experiences in another section of your CV, though.
Stay focussed and optimistic
Job searching is tough. Companies can be selective, some positions are more competitive than others and it can seem like there simply isn't a job out there for you. So whether you are employed or unemployed during your job hunt, cut yourself some slack.
Regardless of your employment status, you must stay focussed on the end goal: professional success. Set yourself manageable targets, maintain a positive mindset and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Keep hopeful, keep moving.
Sticking to a routine can dramatically improve focus and motivation. For example, you could wake up at the same time every day, dedicate an hour a day to job searching or spend two hours a week refining your CV. You may even task yourself with finding 10 suitable jobs each week and applying for 50 per cent of them – even if it's just to see what comes of it.
Don't feel disheartened by the amount of time it takes to secure a job. The right role is out there for the employed and unemployed alike. Just consider your priorities, revamp your CV to suit your aims and keep going.
One way to speed up your job search is to use a stellar CV. See how yours stacks up by submitting for a free CV critique.