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专栏 - 向Anne提问

求职怎样处理超长职业空白期

Anne Fisher 2014年04月04日

Anne Fisher为《财富》杂志《向Anne提问》的专栏作者,这个职场专栏始于1996年,帮助读者适应经济的兴衰起落、行业转换,以及工作中面临的各种困惑。
如果你很长时间没有正式工作,不要试图掩盖现实。相反,要让雇主相信,尽管存在这样的空白期,你的经历依然帮助你维持了出众的专业水准。具体做法是,突出这段经历跟意向职位的相关性,同时避免按照时间顺序来组织履历,淡化空白期。

    亲爱的安妮:我曾经在商业银行工作过30年。2009年初的裁员潮中,我接受了一笔提前退休金之后就退休了。当时,这似乎是很好的选择,但现在我发现,自己非常怀念工作的时光。而且,我刚过50岁,至少还能用我的能力和经验工作十年。问题在于,我的履历中将会出现五年空白期。虽然这段时间我学习了一些课程,参加了几个咨询项目,还作为志愿者帮助当地两家非盈利机构解决了财务问题。但这些年的经历在简历上仍不算是“真正的工作”,我最近见过的雇主大多也拿这个来反对我。我该怎么办?您和您的读者有什么建议?——M.G.

    亲爱的M.G.:美国长期失业人口(指失业达六个月或更长的人)似乎达到了300万人,所以你肯定不是唯一一个在思考这个问题的人,虽然这个事实可能起不到任何安慰的作用。而要克服履历空白期这一劣势,第一步是:自己主动提出,而不是等面试官问起。你可能已经做到了这一点。

    人力资源与人才管理咨询公司OI Global Partners的CEO帕蒂•普罗瑟建议:“面对事实。在对话开始的时候就主动提出这段空白,同时详细说明为了让自己的知识和能力一直保持在最佳状态,你都做过哪些事情。你能够提供的现实事例越具体,与你申请的工作的关系越密切,效果就越好。”

    你的志愿者经历与你正在申请的财务工作尤为相关,但普罗瑟见过许多求职者,他们对作为志愿者所取得的成就,要么轻描淡写,要么只字不提。她说:“在志愿者组织中产生影响,往往需要非常特殊的‘与人相关的’能力,而这些能力正是经营性公司雇主真正看重的东西。所以,不妨谈谈这些方面。即便你只是在孩子的学校负责家长团体的一项资金筹集活动,我们的职业教练也会鼓励你谈论一下如何让人们参与其中,最后取得了怎样的成就等。”

    你参与的咨询项目也能帮你保持敏锐度,所以谈谈这些经历也是不错的选择。简单介绍一下你学到了哪些新技能,实现了什么样的成果。如果你求职的公司因为这些临时工作给了你一份短期项目的工作邀请,不必大惊小怪。普罗瑟说:“越来越多的雇主在决定是否作为全职员工聘用求职者之前,更喜欢先提供合同制的岗位。”

    高管职业导师、《绝处逢生——怎样在岗位荒中找到理想的工作》(Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring)一书的作者福特•R•梅尔斯同意,最好的做法是直面这个问题,而不是“寄希望于人们注意不到它”。他说:“直截了当地提出来。以专业、毫不后悔的方式,向面试官解释当初提前退休的决定。”

    与此同时,梅尔斯提供了五种方式,让“真正工作”之间的五年空白在简历上看起来没有那么扎眼。首先,如果你还没有这么做,不妨使用按工作职能划分的模式重写简历,以自己实际做过的工作作为小标题,而不是从事这些工作的时间。他表示,这样做“可以突出你的职能优势,而不是把重点放在就业日期上。”

    有些招聘经理浏览大多数简历的时间不超过10秒钟(不论是否有空),所以,梅尔斯还建议简历一定要尽量具体。他建议:“尽量把所有内容进行量化,包括人才保留率、销售数字、绩效提高,以及自己管理的人员或项目的数量等。如果可能的话,使用百分比、硬数据和美元数字。”

    他补充道,一些积极的动词也会有所帮助。“比如‘创造’‘首创’、‘发起’‘策划’和‘实施’等动词,比‘负责’等模糊的短语更有效。”

    梅尔斯表示,如果你的求职过程需要花费很长时间,不要灰心。他说:“有的雇主非常开明,他们不会把你五年的空白期视为聘用你的障碍。但也有人会因为这段空白期而拒绝聘用你。你要做好这样的心理准备,不要把它当作针对你个人的行为。”或者,正如帕蒂•普罗瑟最近遇到的一位医疗行业高管所说,记住“如果你五年前是聪明人,五年后依然是聪明人”——甚至更聪明。祝你好运。(财富中文网)

    反馈:你是否曾在失业很长一段时间后重新找到过工作?哪些因素给你最大帮助或成为最大阻碍?欢迎评论。

    译者:刘进龙/汪皓

    

    Dear Annie:After almost 30 years in commercial banking, I took an early-retirement package during all the layoffs that went on in early 2009. It seemed like a good move at the time, but now I find I really miss working, and, since I'm still only in my early 50s, I've got at least another decade ahead in which to use my skills and experience. The problem is that five-year hole in my work history. I've spent the time taking some classes, doing a couple of consulting projects, and volunteering to help two local non-profits straighten out their finances. But my resume still shows no "real job" for those years, and the few employers I've met with recently have seemed to hold that against me. Do you and your readers have any suggestions on how to handle this? -- Minding the Gap

    Dear M.G.:Cold comfort though it may be, the number of long-term unemployed in the U.S. (defined as those out of work for six months or longer) seems stuck at about 3 million, so you can't be the only one wondering. The first step in overcoming the stigma attached to that gap is one you may already be taking: Bring it up yourself, rather than waiting for interviewers to ask.

    "Confront it," advises Patty Prosser, CEO of HR and talent-management consultants OI Global Partners. "Bring that hiatus up right at the start of the conversation, and enumerate all the things you've been doing to keep your knowledge and skills current. The more specific real-life examples you can provide, and the more closely they align with the job you're seeking, the better."

    Your volunteer experience may be especially relevant to finance jobs you're applying for, but Prosser has seen plenty of job candidates downplay their unpaid achievements, or even neglect to mention them at all. "Making an impact in a volunteer organization often takes a very special set of 'people' skills that for-profit employers really value, so talk about that," she says. "Even if you 'only' led a band-parents' fundraiser at a child's school, for example, our career coaches would encourage you to tell how you got people engaged and what the outcome was."

    The consulting projects you worked on probably helped keep you sharp, so talking about those is a good idea, too. Briefly describe any new skills you picked up and the results you accomplished -- and don't be surprised if those temporary gigs lead to an offer of another short-term project at a company where you're job-hunting. "A growing number of employers prefer to bring on new hires on a contract basis before deciding whether to hire them full-time," Prosser observes.

    Ford R. Myers, an executive career coach and author of Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring, agrees that tackling the issue head-on -- as opposed, he says, to "just hoping they won't notice" -- is your best bet. "Be forthright about it," he says. "Explain your early-retirement decision to interviewers in a professional, unapologetic way."

    At the same time, Myers suggests a few ways to make your five years between "real jobs" less conspicuous on paper. First, if you haven't already done so, rewrite your resume using a functional format that groups all your past work together under different headings according to what you actually did ("Accounting," "Management," and so on), rather than when you did it. This "highlights your functional strengths, instead of focusing on dates of employment," he says.

    Since hiring managers skim most resumes (with or without chronological gaps) for no more than 10 seconds, Myers also urges that yours be as specific as you can make it. "Quantify everything you can, including retention rates, sales numbers, performance increase, and the number of people or projects you've managed," he advises. "Wherever possible, use percentages, hard numbers, and dollar figures."

    Active verbs help too, he adds: "Words like 'create,' 'launch,' 'initiate,' 'devise,' and 'conduct' have a lot more impact than vague phrases such as 'responsible for.'"

    Try not to get discouraged if your job hunt takes a while, Myers adds. "Some employers will be open-minded and won't see your five-year gap as an obstacle to hiring you," he notes. "There will be others, however, who reject you purely on the basis of that gap. You need to expect this, and try not to take it personally." Or, as a health care executive Patty Prosser met with recently put it, keep in mind that "if you were smart five years ago, you're still smart now" -- or maybe even smarter. Good luck.

    Talkback:Have you been hired after a long spell of unemployment? What helped you the most, or didn't? Leave a comment below.

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