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Candidate Help & Advice

If There’s No Work, What to Do Next?

Today’s weak economy has changed the psychology of hiring. During past weak economic times, companies might hire temps, and once the economy gained strength, permanent hiring ensued. We have not yet seen that pattern, and there are weak signs that it’s on its way. The situation has caused various and serious difficulties for most of the unemployed people—in particular, for some who usually have difficulty in making decisions of any sort.

Such people have an extra burden this time around because they are sitting ducks waiting for miracles to happen. They are occupationally paralyzed. So, as the title of this article asks, if there’s no work, what to do next?

Well, there are a number of solutions. The first is to engage a professional career coach who could help sort things out by establishing a plan of action and holding the person in transition accountable, by assisting in refinement of the person’s résumé, by teaching networking and social media skills, and even by providing collaterals such as cover letters. However, not in all cases is a career coach the complete answer. Perhaps a coach’s intervention might be appropriate later on, but first, in some situations the person’s condition requires a different approach.

Certain experienced professionals with advanced academic degrees specialize in helping people better understand themselves, as well as help people find options and develop career plans. Their overarching goals are to give their clients a better sense of career options to research and consider and then to offer instruction on how to begin that research process. Then they teach clients to evaluate their options in light of their constraints. Together the two can also work on goal setting and planning when the client is struggling with those aspects of the career development process.

The assessment portion is fundamental to the process, and its value lies in (1) providing additional pieces for the career-decision-making puzzle and (2) guiding a client’s selection of optimal strategies for completing that puzzle. Sometimes the assessment process (which includes the initial interview) suggests there are important pieces to the puzzle that are not specific to an exploration of career options and that must be added to the mix before goal setting and planning can be done effectively. In those cases, the professional can suggest other options or resources before continuing.

The way I see it, the biggest problems are a false sense of hope and not realizing that one is stuck in indecision over the next step. Sometimes it takes weeks or even months before the pain becomes unbearable. By then, the person’s financial reserves may have dwindled, and spousal support may have weakened—even morphing into antagonism. Such waiting and waiting exacerbates the core issue, and solutions become more difficult to reverse and overcome.

Employers that sift through their many viable applicants prefer to go with those who are employed or have been in transition for only a relatively short time. Their thinking is that if a person’s been out of work for an extended period, there must be some problem with that person—a problem they have no time to explore. And they thus move on to the next candidate. Once the head count and budgets have been approved, good companies make decisions fast. And so should you.