I’m employed, but I’m self-employed, so I it appears that I might as well be unemployed in the views of many employers. Anyone can write “self-employed” on their resume and come up with a fancy job title of some sort to cover an employment gap, right? You feed your pet each day? Well, maybe you’re an “Animal Nutrition Specialist”. Keep track of what time you wake up and fall asleep (jobless) each day? Well, you’re an “Observational Sleep Analyst”. Make yourself a bowl of cereal in the morning? How about “Culinary professional”.
You get the point.
And while I’m content with my current self-employed role, I’m often on the lookout for job opportunities, taking the time to apply for something occasionally. Through these job-hunt experiences, I’ve started to come to some tough realizations though. According to an article from The Atlantic, “There are two labor markets nowadays. There’s the market for people who have been out of work for less than six months, and the market for people who have been out of work longer. The former is working pretty normally, and the latter is horribly dysfunctional.”
Supporting documentation is essential
As a self-employed individual who may one day re-enter the regular workforce, I try to retain any sort of supporting documentation of the work I’ve been doing. Walking into an interview and only being able to tell a hiring manager what I’ve been working on doesn’t have as much emphasis as being able to illustrate what I’ve been working on.
As a writer, my documentation includes a portfolio of published work. This portfolio includes hard copies as well as web addresses of published work. Of course I also have access to references from those I’ve worked with or done work for to fall back up. Along with this information, I maintain a list of any sort of new skills I’ve obtained, software I’ve used, or coursework I’ve undergone during my self-employment career, as well as any awards I’ve been presented for my work. I feel that being able to hand something to a hiring manager for them to actually see my efforts just carries a bit more weight than telling them.
Networking is huge
Over my last few years of self-employment, I’ve sent out resumes and applications to numerous employers. With the exception of a few out of about 20 applications, I never heard a word back from an actual person. Given, I was only testing the waters and wasn’t seriously applying for these jobs; nonetheless, it tells me about the importance of having an “in” with a company or organization rather than just hoping I make it through the maze of electronic application systems.
To maintain my personal network, I still keep in contact with multiple members of organizations with which I worked previously. While I enjoy these people as friends as well, it’s also nice to have them there for assistance should I ever seriously like to return to work within these operations.
Thinking like a recruiter or hiring manager
When I’m updating my resume, I try to think like a hiring manager. Having been there myself once working in hospitality management, I know what candidate resume characteristics can be a turnoff. I don’t really want to see big employment gap on a resume, and if I do, I’d like a good reason for it and supporting evidence that the person wasn’t just sitting on their hands for several years.
This is why I try to structure my resume to the particular job for which I’m looking to apply. This might involve putting relating experience activities at the top of my resume to highlight them as they related to the job. Otherwise, I might put my education at the top of my resume if my work-related experience is lacking but my degree fits well with the role. And lately, I’ve kept my job search local — and at furthest, regional — since with jobs at a premium and many companies cutting budgets, they may be less likely to hiring out-of-state due to relocation timeframes and costs they’d prefer to avoid.
In these ways, I’m trying to make the best of a bad employment-search situation, and while I’m not actively in the hunt, I want to be as prepared as possible if or when the time comes.
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The author is not a licensed financial or career professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.