Back in 2016, I was a client of a new company called Find My Profession. This period in my career was particularly challenging because I had quit a job to take care of my mother. She was diagnosed with cancer and I believe family comes first. I took time off but needed to work, somehow. Meanwhile, I was looking for a job on my own.
During this time, I regretted quitting my job before I started my job search. However, in my career, I have had job interviews while employed in the past. I invite you to read these effects of employment status on your job interviews if you are thinking of quitting your job before starting a job search. (Spoiler alert: It is still not a good idea to job search while unemployed)
Employed: Feeling cocky, secure, and not worried if the company thinks I am a fit or not.
Unemployed: Desperate, insecure, and ready to say anything to get a job.
Preparation for Interview Questions
Employed: Feeling like anything can be asked or discussed. You have a job. So do they.
Unemployed: Read lots of LinkedIn advice on how to explain “dragon-slaying” stories. Deal with uncomfortable silences during the interview. Sound rehearsed, stiff, nervous and insecure while hoping someone sees this as a sign of what you are willing to do to get hired.
Preparation of Outfits
Employed: I will wear a suit or jeans and a t-shirt. It does not matter. Skip it. I am not a slob. I will just wear something business casual.
Unemployed: Nothing in my closet fits. My attire will not match the company's culture. A suit is too much, but I do not want to insult anyone by over or underdressing.
Attitude Towards the Job Interviewer
Employed: I am off the market. I am wanted goods. You tell me why I should want to work here.
Unemployed: I will do anything you want when you want it. And I am very capable of doing so. I do not know how to tell you this without sounding desperate.
Preparation for Explaining Experience and Job Gaps
Employed: Does it really matter? Another company hired me. Why not be smart like the other companies and do the same?
Unemployed: I will try to stick to relevant experience, even though I know they want to know more. How do I explain job gaps without looking lazy, disloyal, or worse? Is it too negative to say the real reasons why, like a family member being sick?
Preparation for Behavioral Questions
Unemployed: I want to work here because I need a job and I am at the mercy of the company that wants me. Why even bother answering these seemingly meaningless questions.
Greetings and Saying Goodbye
Employed: Shakes hand and says hello. Leaves when the interview is done. Must get back to work now.
Unemployed: Nervous handshake. Focused on the right way to say hello and goodbye without hanging around too long. Not sure what to do next. Once the interview is done, there is no job to go back to. So, what now?
You may find it unfair, but the person who is “Employed” gets hired more than the person who is “Unemployed”. This happens typically because of the following:
- Skills not in use become outdated
- Unemployment rates are low so the assumption is a job candidate is at fault for being unemployed
- Companies are not in the business of saving people from unemployment
You can see how the Employed mindset is cocky, arrogant, maybe even obnoxious, which does count against the Employed person at times. The Unemployed thinker is insecure, full of doubt, and seems to lack confidence.
The effects of one's employment status during a job interview is stronger than most realize. The only solution to this problem is to go into every job interview either believing you still have a job or actually having a job of some sort, even if you are only consulting or volunteering.