If you left school or college last year and are still trying to find a job it may be tricky to explain away what has been taking so long. Getting to a job interview only for someone to ask why you have been out of work for so long can be a tricky moment to tackle. How can you turn what could easily be seen as a negative into a positive? The first step lies in knowing what the employer is actually asking and what they might expect from you as a reply…
Of course a prospective employer can easily work out how long you have been looking for work – by seeing when you left college or what date your last job or course finished. Most likely, they will want to know what you have been doing with yourself – and hanging out playing Xbox won’t cut it as an answer (even if that’s the truth!).
The employer may also wonder why you haven’t found work yet – is it because you are not looking in the right places or have you been unlucky? They may even wonder if there is something about you that others employers spotted which they should be wary of?
The questions don’t end there either!
Will your skills be up-to-date? Are you just desperate for any job and not really wanting to work for them in particular?
Of course, if you have been volunteering, studying, or busy doing something else like caring for a family member, then you should state that in your covering letter and C.V. (see here for some tips on writing a C.V.)
However, if you have been doing none of these things, then what should you say?
Have a look at the industry you wish to get into –has there been a down-turn in employment lately? You could say that you have been waiting for the right role (and this is it!). Alternatively, you could say that you have took some time out and spent it getting fit, doing some serious home-improvements, or some other worthy personal cause.
You should also say if you were recovering from any illness or injury – although be sure to emphasise that you are fine and fit for work now!
Whatever you say, stay positive. You may have spent some time relaxing and working out what you want to do next, before starting your job-search. You could say that you have been reviewing your skills and experience while researching the job market. Understanding what employers want will help here.
Say that your job search has been careful and planned, since you wanted to find the role that suited you – you could even say that you turned down other opportunities – but be sure to state how you wanted to feel you could fully engage and contribute to the job you took.
If there is any other evidence of how you may be keeping your skills updated, make sure to include it. You can even say that the longer job search has helped build your resilience!
While these tips should help you get around a tricky situation, be sure to look at why your job search is not yielding the results you hoped for. Is it something you are doing wrong? Perhaps you need to improve your interview technique, or maybe you just need to try looking for something different?