Explaining unemployment in a job interview?

Monday, August 24th, 2009 - career management, CV Help, economics, Employment, Job Advert, Job Application, Job Interview, professionalism, redundancy

Explaining unemployment in a job interview?

James, I think your cover's blown!

Haydn asks: I have been unemployed for nearly 6 months now. I finished university in 2007 and have only managed to get 2 fixed terms jobs (one for 6 months and another for 4) with gaps in between them. The problem is that in the last 6 months I have applied for well over a hundred jobs, yet I have had no luck. Now, I have been invited to attend an assessment centre for a graduate position, but I have a large 6 month gap since I last worked. The real problem is that I sent them my CV and application back in October of last year, when I was still working, so they have no idea that I am unemployed at the moment. If I tell them that I have applied to many jobs but I have been unsuccessful then will that make me look like there is something wrong with me? Are companies more understanding with unemployment at the moment because of the economic conditions? Any advice would be great. I am getting a little worried that because I have been out of work for so long that it will ruin my chances of getting the job. Thanks.

In answer:
Lots of questions here, so lets take them in order.

Firstly, employers ask you to interviews or assessments because they think you have the skills they require (functional fit), and the potential to fit into their organisation (social fit): so this request is a huge positive. Organisations run assessment centres to process large numbers of job applicants, but really they should be though of an mass-applicant job interview sessions. The term assessment centre is a nice polite term, and means they can open the opportunity to many more people at little additional cost.

Secondly, employers are aware of the economy. They know that presently and for the last 12months+ people have been laid off and made redundant. HR Departments hence accept that a proportion of new job applicants will be applying because they are presently “between opportunities.” Much as though in a normal economy you would have explain why you were made redundant, at present employers accept a proportion will be.

Gaps in employment history

I am concerned as a recruiter if some people applying for our current vacancies are using the economy as an excuse/veil to the real reasons of why they are applying. Hence like many, we still run the same rigorous background and reference checks. So the best advice I can give is: Just be honest and tell them exactly how it is! Employers want people who are enthused, so if your unemployment comes up, show that you have been looking for work and not sat on your backside!

Now tactically, how to handle the question. Being open about being unemployed is one thing, but saying that you have been rejected from 100’s of jobs is another. I always coach that if you are not getting 1 job interview in 10 job applications, that there is something wrong either in the jobs you are applying for (ie – you don’t have the right skills, qualifications or experiences); or that there is something wrong with your CV (ie – there is a communications problems in there, and you probably need our Free CV review service). Keep the conversation focused on the types of job you want to do, and in an interview for that employer make those jobs focused around their core area. Now, that doesn’t mean that you make stuff up or lie, its just that you don’t openly provide the entire width of jobs types that you have been applying for: OK? Keep it focused and controlled.

In summary, don’t worry about unemployment at the moment, but do get happy about being asked for an interview; keep your focus on that employer/job and the opportunities they provide.

Good Luck!


If you need an interview winning solution, sign-up for our Professional CV service

If you want to check the suitability of your existing CV, then get a FREE CV review


Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.

Recent Posts



Review cv4.biz on alexa.com