One of the biggest challenges I’ve seen in the last nine years since I’ve lost my job and communicated with thousands of job seekers is a misunderstanding of who they are. Too often people think “I’m unemployed,” and that label needs to be their brand. For example, when I had a job, my introduction was:
“I’m Jason Alba, the General Manager of this company.”
Then, when I lost my job, it changed to:
“I’m Jason Alba, and I’m…. uh… uh… In transition? Unemployed?”
However you say that new thing, let me suggest that it is said WRONG!!! I know we are used to having a title, and a professional identity, but this new thing is not our title and it is not our professional identity!
Here’s a simple analogy to show you why: Let’s say your neighbor is a master carpenter. You’ve seen his work, and he is amazing. You can say: “My neighbor is a carpenter.”
But, what if your neighbor has all of his tools stolen, and he can’t work until he buys new tools? Is he still a carpenter?
Or, what if your neighbor gets chicken pox or cooties, and can’t work for at least a week. Is he still a carpenter?
YES, he is still a carpenter!!!
His status is “not working,” for the moment. I actually call this his temporary status. But “not working” is not his brand**.
Some people think that when they are in transition they are unemployed. They don’t understand that is a temporary status, and they begin to believe the lie that they are “professionally unemployed.”
Please realize the difference between your brand (including skills, competencies, etc.) and your temporary status.
With this information, you should network differently. Are you an out of work product manager? Break that down to status (out of work) and brand (product manager). You don’t have to wear the out of work like it’s a badge of honor or a badge of shame. It’s simply a temporary status.
Now, go out and communicate better, and more accurately, with your network!
** I use the word brand loosely here, since I don’t think a job title is a good way to brand… but for the purpose of this article, it’s good enough.