In a Monday Chicago Tribune profile, Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger provided some insight on questions commonly asked by people who suddenly find themselves thrust into joblessness.
Q & A
John Challenger has been working with unemployed people for 30 years. He often has to push them out of the house.
“It feels like, everybody you’re going to go see, you’re asking if you can borrow money from them,” he said. “Everybody hates to do that. It’s so awkward and uncomfortable.”
But it’s also important to remember that how you carry yourself is part of your job search. People, especially friends and colleagues from your business life, need to see you handling the situation well, gamely and smartly moving forward, he said.
Hence, the advice to get moving.
Q: What do you say to people who have just lost their job?
A: In the first few days it’s very important to talk to your family about it. Sometimes, people don’t want to burden other people with the news. But the last thing you want is for someone you love to hear the news from someone else.
Q: What is the most important thing people can do in a job search?
A; Get out and be a part of your world. Talk to people you know: friends, colleagues. People will want to help you. You need to get used to talking about it, to portraying it in a positive light by showing people you are looking ahead. You have a message, and you need to get that message out.
Q: What is a common mistake people make?
A: Don’t sit in front of your computer all day, tinkering with your resume or researching companies. I tell people to do that stuff after dinner. You can’t make it the core of your search. You have to see people out in the community. Re-engage yourself with organizations you have relationships with.
Being out of work is difficult. The tendency is to focus inward, to try and heal the hurt. From a search standpoint, it’s essential to do the opposite. You have to focus outward.
Q: Any particular advice for people who’ve been out of work for a long time?
A: The number of people out of work for more than six months has hit record levels. Sometimes, you just have to get back to work. Try to do projects here and there to fill those gaps and show that you can still do it. You may want to consider jobs that may not be where you’ve been before. It’s better to get back to work than to sit at home.