Three years ago I quit my job as a manager and have thoroughly enjoyed pursuing more meaningful activities (gardening, fishing, writing, etc). Concerned that my elysian existence is not sustainable, I went to see a recruitment agency and explained the whats, whys and wherefores of my past three years. He looked as if I had just been sick over his shoes. I fear any future employer would react similarly. How should I present my current circumstances to best effect at the next interview?
Unemployed, male, 41
Your timing is doubly bad. Not only are you competing with armies of the newly unemployed, who have not spent three years putting maggots on the end of a fishing line, but employers are playing very safe indeed. They will look on your CV with even greater suspicion than usual and worry that your experience is out of date. They will fret that if you got sick of working last time, you might do so again. Above all, they will want to cover their backs by hiring a person who may not be the brightest, but is the safest.
This means you must lie. I’m not suggesting big lies, such as claiming to have held jobs you did not or have qualifications you do not. Instead I suggest extreme spin is in order. Most CVs are built on this, with oafs routinely claiming to have unrivalled leadership skills or a passion for opera, when they like America’s Next Top Model. You must talk as positively as you can about your three years, building up your story to assuage their fears and making clear that you are now all the more committed to 9-to-5 as a result of your rest from it, and that you have kept up with changes in your industry.
However, even with a more plausible CV you are going to have to tolerate a lot of people being sick on your shoes before you strike lucky and land a job – which, if you persevere, you will do eventually, especially if you are not fussy about the job itself.
There are two bits of good news. The first is that the things you like to do are cheap, so you won’t have to earn a lot to support your Arcadian existence on the side.
The better news is that you enjoy not working. Most people think they will love it, but find they hate it. This means you can soften the hard weeks and months you will spend opening rejection letters with some soothing weeding and pruning, enjoying the evenings as they get longer and protecting your soul from destruction.