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If you’re out of work at the moment, you may well be starting to feel a bit down on yourself.

Maybe you were a permanent employee who made the brave decision to leave an organisation without another position secured; maybe you were made redundant due to an organisational change; or maybe you’re a contractor that successfully completed a contract.

Are you getting the feeling that being out of work makes you appear less valuable to a recruiting employer than someone in current employment?

Don’t give any time to this idea – it will do you no good. I have been recruiting for over 20 years and have worked with thousands of outstanding candidates who are both ‘in’ and ‘out’ of work whilst looking for new opportunities and I’m going to share with you some truths that will help you feel confident again and deal with any real or perceived bias against you.

Employer concerns

It is true that an employer may wonder why you’re out of work. They might be thinking:

  • Were you laid off due to competency, or perhaps being a disruptive influence?
  • Have you lost the sharpness of your skills, your confidence and overall competency?
  • Are you applying because you ‘need’ the job rather than ‘want’ the job?


Some reasons you may not be working


  • The organisation has a different outlook than yours, you may be working with old tech, you’ve hit a ceiling limit within the business, and you want to further your career.
  • You’re working in a toxic environment, there is a lack of respect, you may be underpaid, and you’re seeing the top employees leave.
  • You decided to go travelling, take a career break, relocate etc.

How I see this scenario

If you’ve left a job for personal reasons, then it’s more than likely that you’ve made a balanced, and brave decision. In my experience candidates who do this have drive, ambition, and are not afraid to seek new challenges! Great qualities, I’d say!

Organisational/Market Changes

Your company is in the middle of an organisational restructure, maybe they’re planning to relocate, your department is being outsourced to a 3rd party. What you do know is that jobs will be put at risk and multiple redundancies will be made.
Recession / Pandemic / IR35 etc.

How I see this scenario

If you’ve left due to organisational/market changes, then this isn’t a reflection of your ability but purely a business-based decision. Be kind to yourself! Sometimes, this can work to your advantage. You may have already been thinking about leaving and this has just accelerated that decision.

Think of it as an opportunity to take a step back, press the reset button, and re-assess both your professional and personal situation.

Are you less capable than your employed counterparts?

Whatever argument is presented to me, I’m yet to find any evidence that suggests that being out of work makes you less capable than someone in work. In fact, I received an offer this week for a candidate who has been out of work since January. Was he less capable because of this? Of course not! The client didn’t even question the fact that he was not in work, and has secured an outstanding candidate with immediate availability.

Whether you’re in or out of work makes no difference. It’s quite simply about who’s the right and best person for the job!

My advice


  • Remind yourself of the value you can bring to an organisation … you don’t lose your skills overnight!
  • Don’t be too guarded about discussing the reasons why you’re out of work – you will be asked the question, and it’s important to be open and honest, just try to package it in a positive way.
  • Have a story to tell and try to do something productive with your time off. You may not be gifted another opportunity like this for a long time.
  • Carefully plan your job search and monitor your success. Successes may include up-dating your LinkedIn profile, identifying 10 local companies to approach, re-engaging with your network, making contact with good recruiters, having a positive interview etc.
  • Make sure you prepare and adjust your CV to highlight what you have that each employer needs (see the CV tips post)
  • Maintain a positive attitude, persevere, focus on the end game, and be kind to yourself!

Recruiters/HR Professionals/Hiring Managers

  • Be open minded when you recruit, and don’t make any negative assumptions.
  • Treat out of work candidates with respect, and don’t take the candidates for granted during the recruitment process. One day you could find yourself in the same situation.
  • Learn about the contribution and value the candidate can be bring to your business, focus on the positive aspects:
  • This is a great opportunity to secure some amazing talent
    – Candidates will be grateful for the opportunity and are likely to repay your confidence in them by being totally committed and fiercely loyal.
    – The candidate may be a more cost-effective option.
    – No long notice periods, no risk of being counter offered by their current employers and can start quickly!

Stick with it

I believe that hiring managers are becoming more forgiving of candidates who have had breaks in employment, particularly in the current environment. At the end of the day, it’s about finding the best person for the job, and whether you’re in or out of work is almost irrelevant.

To close, you are no less valuable now than you ever were. I’m sure you will prove to be a fantastic hire for the client lucky enough to find you, and you may be even closer to securing your next role than you think. There is no denying it’s a challenging employment market but continue to work hard on finding your next opportunity despite the disappointments. Your perseverance will be rewarded in the end.