It is up to you to spread the good word about your search for a new job. And it is common to want to truthfully confess your situation, however, when you do this, it often exposes your emotional baggage and other less-attractive qualities.
These are four examples of how to spin your situation from truthful to inspiring.
The "just coasting" impression. "I am looking for a management job, but I just need to work five more years."
You may be thinking and planning your retirement, but never say it publicly. It gives people the impression that your heart really isn't in the game and that you won't give your full commitment to any job you take because you have one foot into retirement. While this probably isn't true, the reality is that few employers would want to hire you if they sensed you weren't going to give the job everything you've got. This seems unfair since many companies can't guarantee you will have a job five years from now. And one more thing for you to consider. Even though you may be planning on retiring in a few years, your situation could change. You may decide you either want or need to stay in the workforce longer, so it wouldn't necessarily be a lie to say this instead: "I really enjoy being a manager and I'm looking for an opportunity to help a company grow by developing their people and improving operational systems."
The "victim" syndrome. "I've been looking for a job for over a year. The market stinks."
Yes, the last few years have been tough but the reality is that companies have been hiring. A tough job market is sort of like a tough job. If you're having difficulty in your search, what will you do when your job becomes challenging? Again, this is not necessarily true or fair, however, it is an assumption people may jump to if you let them. Why not accentuate the positive activities you've been involved with during your job search by saying this: "While I have been looking for a job, I've also been volunteering with a local charity to help organize volunteers. I would really like to find a non-profit that could use a good coordinator."
The "desperation"dilemma. "My search hasn't been going so well, so I am willing to do anything."
You may feel like you would be willing to do anything now, however, how will you feel doing that job three months from now? Employers have a fear that candidates who are over-qualified will not stay in a job below them for long. Additionally, when you convey desperation, you're not demonstrating your talents and strengths. Employers don't just hire to fill a vacancy. They want to hire someone who brings talent, skills, and experience to fill a void in their company. Instead, provide people with information that will help them help you by saying: "I've evaluated my strengths and want to stay true to what I love doing. I really enjoy solving problems on the manufacturing line. This is what I want to continue to do. If you know anyone who works for ABC, XYZ, or PDQ companies, please, let me know."
The "stability" factor. "Years ago I used to do accounting. I haven't used it in a long time, but I think it's a stable career so I want to go back into it."
Many people crave stability and understandably so. There are fewer stable jobs today and wouldn't it be nice not to have to worry that your job would be outsourced or vanish in a few years? But avoid giving the impression that you're making a career change solely for this reason. Stability may be your primary concern, however, it is not a priority for employers to supply you with this. You may send the impression that you want to be taken care of or that you'll be a "needy" employee. Tie your interests into your new career pursuit, and send a message that you're making a carefully planned change by saying: "Throughout my career I have been drawn to numbers. Specifically, accounting functions. I know I can help a company manage their accounting functions better."
These suggestions may sound too smooth, however, your goal is to keep your emotions from dictating your communication and actions. It is your choice to impact how people perceive you and the impression you leave.
Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.