Recruiters and hiring managers can be concerned about executives who are unemployed and looking for another job. Some may assume if you are not working there must be a problem. Thankfully, not everyone has that attitude, however, you need to be prepared for the negative thinkers and turn them around to believe you are the best candidate for their company.
1. Be careful how you describe your layoff. First and foremost be truthful. If your layoff was part of a company-wide downsizing, mention it to deflect any thoughts about performance issues as the reason for your layoff. Also, if you survived one or more rounds of layoffs, mention that too as a way of showing that your employer valued you and kept you as long as they could. Give a reason for the layoff if you can (eliminated product line, consolidated several departments, etc.).
2. Confirm that you maintain a good relationship with former employer. Always be positive about former employers, no matter what the circumstances of your departure. Ask for references and endorsements from former bosses and colleagues (you can request it online on LinkedIn). Also, if there is an opportunity to do consulting projects with a former employer, this shows they still value your talents and skills.
3. Highlight strong skillset & development of new skills. Recruiters will want to know what you’ve been doing while unemployed. One thing they are checking on is if you have kept your skills up-to-date and developed new talents that will be beneficial to their client/company. If you have consulting projects, volunteer programs, or new degrees or training under your belt, this will show people you are continuing your career development.
4. Look forward not back. Dwelling on the past doesn’t generally propel a person forward. Learning from past experiences should add to your knowledge base and help you put the lessons in perspective as you move on in your career.
Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for potential candidates extensively online at sites like LinkedIn. Make sure the online profiles in your social media sites are up-to-date, free of digital dirt, and keyword searchable.
Be as positive as you can so recruiters don’t detect a hint of desperation or negativism. Prepare responses to describe your off-work time to your advantage. And, most of all, maintain your professional image during job search.