How to look employable when you are unemployed

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If you lose your job in financial services now, it may be a good while before you find one again. Careers consultants talk of six months, or more. Equally, employers - while respectful of the fact that good people have been let go, will often still prefer people without gaps in their employment.

So, if you're out of the market, what should you be doing to maximise your chances of getting back in?

1. Position yourself as a thought leader

It may seem extreme, but Chad Oakley, president and chief operating officer of Charles Aris, a US-based global executive search firm, says he's encountered unemployed financial services job seekers who write daily market assessments. “When they went to interview, they had a hundred pages of market recaps that [showed] their passion for the industry and their hard work ethic,” he says. “It was as though they’d never stopped working.”

Alternatively, you might want to try blogging about your area of speciality suggests Dana Leavey, a New York-based career consultant. Or you may wish to write an e-book, teach at a college or university, or run workshops,

2. Do some consulting

Short-term consulting has traditionally been a popular option for out of work financial services professionals. Try smaller companies, or your clients, or even your previous employers. Even if they pay less, consulting contracts are worthwhile, says Oakley.

“It demonstrates that other people in the market place saw value in you,” he says. “It says I’m a worker and idle time doesn’t sit well with me.”

3. Volunteer

Volunteering helps build relationships, sharpen skills and improve your self-esteem. It may not pay, but volunteering is also an excellent way to gain experience necessary to make a dramatic career move into a different sector.

4. Update your skills

If you want to move into a different kind of role, read a lot of job descriptions, note the skills you don't have and seek to acquire them through relevant study. The CFA is an eternally popular option. The Securities Institute runs numerous financial services-related courses in the UK. Make the most of your free time. .

5. Address the gap before they do

When you make it into an interview, don't leave it up to your interviewer to mention your time out of the market.

“Shine a bright light on the gap during the interview process,” says Oakley. “Beat them to the punch. Be proactive. The only way you will ever get hired when you have a significant gap on your resume is when that company feels you are 100% comfortable talking about it. If they have to probe or dig, they will assume the worst.”




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