Strategies for Overcoming Long-Term Unemployment

j0341807Unfair Break for the Long-Term Unemployed

A common message I hear from job seekers is that the long-term unemployed now face another layer of challenge and frustration. If you have been unemployed for six months or longer, your chances of even being considered for traditional employment have plummeted.

For those of you who have earnestly applied yourself in your job search (and I believe that is the overwhelming majority of the unemployed) this only adds insult to injury. What to do?

Hope for the Long-Term Unemployed

The good news is that you can get back to work.

Embrace the idea that you are looking for work, and not just a full-time job. Finding work (in the form of projects, consulting gigs, and/or temporary assignments), not only puts money in your pocket, but also helps build a bridge to your next job.

Seven Steps for Crushing Long-Term Unemployment

Make these steps a part of your strategy and you will have an excellent road map. Each step has a critical place in your process. Resist the urge to cut corners, and you will find work sooner.

1. Focus –¬†Keep your search focused on strengths in your wheelhouse, even if it means having to take a step back. Your willingness to perform at a high level, no matter the job title, can position you for a step up. Resist the urge to apply for anything.

2. Structure – Your job search is a job, and requires planning and discipline. Take 30 minutes to map a plan each week that includes networking, expanding LinkedIn connections, researching target companies, getting introductions, and applying for targeted job postings.

3. Connections – Remember that people hire people. Build new connections weekly. Find ways to give back to others. Inquire about good companies and connections instead of asking for a job.

4. Contribution – Volunteer in professional organizations and non-profits that align with your passions. Volunteering will remind you of your value and impact while helping you maintain skills and structure.

5. Skills – Keep your valuable skills current. Find inexpensive resources to help you maintain and build new skills.

6. Flexibility – Be willing to take on project work or odd jobs to keep your financial house in order.

7. Cover the Gap – Use the strategies outlined above to honestly ensure you don’t have a lengthy gap on your resume. Start a small business or piece together small projects and part-time work.

Be ready to explain in positive terms the strides you have made toward securing work, building skills, and contributing to your community. Leave any bitterness or negativity outside the room during job interviews.

Develop a proactive career strategy now to get ahead of the employment gap. Don’t let that stand in the way of securing the next opportunity.