14.3  What Have You Been Doing During for the Last two Years? The Dodge Durango Answer

If you have been out of work for a while, due to the global pandemic and economic crisis, following graduation or in response to a downsizing, prospective employers are going to ask: what have you been doing during this time?

Dodge Durango nailed the answer in a 2011 commercial.  I love this commercial!  It is the best!!!

Here’s the text:
    “It’s 2011. Wonder where the Durango’s been for the last 2 years? Well it toured around Europe getting handling and steering lessons on those sporty European roads. It went back to school - got an advanced degree in technology. Its been working out - more muscle, and less fat. It’s only been 2 years but its done more in 2 years than most cars do in a lifetime.”
That’s it. That’s the entire message, the entire commercial is 62 words long but it gets the point across in magnificent form. The answer is straight out of Career Counseling 101!

Looking for work is a challenging experience in the best of time. These are not the best of times. The more time passes, the harder the challenge becomes. I worked with people who were laid off in the last recession for up to two years. After being unemployed for a long time, it’s a struggle to get back in the game. If you graduate into a downturn you may be facing an uphill climb for years.

When the current recession is over, the crushing reality is that many people will not break back into the market. Some people will be permanently unemployed or permanently underemployed. The longer the period of unemployment, the harder it will be to break back in.

Even though we are going through a terrible recession employers will still wonder: what is wrong with you? why haven’t you found a job? maybe your skills have gone stale … maybe you’ve lost your edge. The longer you are out and the older you get, the harder it is to get employers to look at you.

If you want to impress an employer, one thing you have to do is to show them that you used your downtime time wisely and productively.

When companies are hiring again after any recessions, employers get picky. You will need to stand out to get attention in a crowded field. It’s a basic supply demand situation: there are going to be fewer jobs and tons of people chasing them.

If you are not productive during your time off, you are not going to be ready to compete.  More importantly, you are not going to be able to impress anyone in a position to hire.

Looking back at the last recession there are reasons to hope and examples to learn from.  Phillip Tibbits a career changer with 20+ years of experience. He returned to school for his BS in 2007 and graduated in electrical power engineering in January of 2010 right in the lowest point of the economic downturn. After looking for a year he received his dream offer from Puget Sound Power in Bellevue, Washington. During his long search for the perfect job, Phillip audited grad classes, joined the weekly alumni job club, attended IEEE events and job fairs, and put an extreme amount of effort into job seeking. He targeted specific companies, refined his search, and analyzed every interview to improve his performance. He also exercised daily and meditated frequently.

According to Phillip: “sitting in grad classes keeps you fresh and around people- it improves your mood. And students and professors are great sources for networking.” Phillip said It’s not just about looking for work. In his words: “so you’re breathing ... what else are you doing?”

It is no longer good enough to just look for work or to just go to school. If you want to compete in the post-recession labor market, you will have to do much more. You will have to be able to demonstrate that you are challenging yourself and exposing yourself to new life experiences in spite of the crisis.

When they ask about what you have been doing for the last two years, you need to be able to answer the way Dodge Durango did.