Tips to Overcome Long-term Unemployment

An all-too-common message that I hear from job seekers today is that the long-term unemployed now face yet another layer of challenge and frustration. Many of you are learning that being unemployed for six months or longer may lower your chances of even being considered for traditional employment. For those of you who have earnestly applied yourself to finding work (and I believe that is the overwhelming majority of the unemployed) this only adds insult to injury. What to do?

Here are the steps that will help you unlock an opportunity sooner, and get you back on the path to working and regular income:

Structure:

Finding work is a job and requires planning, discipline and execution. Sit down on Sunday night and take 30 minutes to write a plan that includes networking, strategically expanding your LinkedIn visibility, researching companies that could hire you regardless of current openings, and applying for current openings.

Connections:

Build new connections weekly. Set goals. Find ways to give back to those connections and inquire about good companies and connections instead of asking for a job.

Contribution:

Volunteer in professional organizations and in mission-based non-profits that align with your values and passion. This may lead directly to paid project work and full-time opportunities, and will remind you of your value and impact.

Build Skills:

Find free or inexpensive resources such as your county workforce center, community colleges, or online courses to help you add relevant and fresh skills that hiring managers need today.

Focus:

Keep your job search focused on skills and strengths in your wheelhouse. Your willingness to perform at a high level, no matter what the job title, can be useful in positioning you for a step up. Resist the urge to apply for just anything that comes along.

Flexibility:

Be willing to take on project-based work or even odd jobs as a way to keep your financial house in order, rather than narrowly focusing on a full-time job with benefits.

Cover the Gap:

Use the strategies outlined above to ensure that you don’t have a lengthy gap on your resume, even if it means starting a solo business, piecing together projects, and/or working part-time. Be ready to explain in the most positive terms the strides you have made toward securing work, building skills, and contributing to your community.

Don’t let time out of the workforce prevent you from resolving the employment gap; develop proactive strategies to accelerate your job search now.