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5 Tips for Jobseekers Facing Long-Term Unemployment in the New Economy

From time-to-time, I’m contacted by jobseekers plagued with the  long-term unemployed label. As you can imagine, some are beyond frustrated with trying to find a job and are desperate to secure a stable salary that sustains their family and lifestyle. Maybe they are dealing with feelings of uncertainty about their professional value, or even struggling to hang on to that last shred of confidence that began taking a downward hit so many months ago.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, if you’ve gone 27 weeks or more without a job, you are officially considered long-term unemployed. Even though the economy has improved significantly since the onset of the 2007/20068 Great Recession, many businesses and industries have not achieved their former success. As a result, employment continues to lag for some professions and industries.

If you’re still waiting for things to go back to pre-2007, don’t. Companies continue to restructure, reorganize, and execute layoffs. This new economic reality comes with a changing employment landscape. It’s more important than ever to understand which skills and professional attributes are most valuable now and in the future to stay relevant.

According to Robert Hall, Stanford University Economist and head of the National Bureau of Economic Research (responsible for dating recession occurrences), “The national recovery is complete.” Meaning any noticeable lags or sluggishness in the economy are the new normal.

This new economy is super competitive, with more people searching for jobs than there are jobs available. Employers have also raised their expectations, resulting in a much more demanding selection process. This has also led to a widening gap between the employed and the long-term under-employed/unemployed.

Recruiters and hiring managers tend to view employed job candidates more favorably so the longer you stay unemployed the harder it is to get job. Harder but not impossible. What can you do speed things along?

Individualize your resume and cover letter each time you apply for a job. You’ll have a much better chance of passing a company’s electronic screen, and stand out in a sea of competitors if you take the time to make sure your documents clearly show your skills and experience match an employer’s qualifications.

Find projects and activities to help fill in unemployment gaps. Connect with local charitable and non-profit organizations for volunteer and other community service opportunities. This shows employers that you are motivated and demonstrates initiative. And you never know – a volunteer role could potentially lead to employment.

Take on “gig” projects for the interim. The gig economy is often a remote workforce made up of independent contract workers, temps, freelancers, and service providers, entrepreneurs, and other non-traditional workers; and it’s growing fast. The pros: you can ptentially keep yourself financially afloat while sharpening and/or learning new skills. The cons: workers are less likely to have access to employer-provided insurance benefits, retirement plans, sick leave, medical, leave, etc.

You can find gigs through temp agencies, job boards, online platforms that connect talent with businesses, or by advertising your services directly to customers via social media or a website.

Reach out to your network. Let everyone in your network know you’re looking for a job. Reach out to your old coworkers and employers for possible leads.

Plan and practice responses to questions about your unemployment. You know you’re going to get asked about it, so come up with a couple of brief, practiced answers. Address the specific question asked, keeping your response brief – don’t fall into the trap of over-explaining. When you over-explain, you risk rambling and giving too much information – information that could hurt your chances.

When coaching a client to prepare for possible responses, we’ll work on crafting brief responses to possible questions, and we’ll also work on a diversionary tactic that allows them to quickly redirect the focus of the conversation to a discussion of recent projects they’ve successfully completed, or skills they’ve recently obtained; and how these accomplishments can add value to the role they’re applying for.

Be consistent. If you have a daily job search plan or routine, be consistent and work the plan daily to get positive results.

Photo Credit: Garrhet Sampson

Now be honest… is the resume and cover letter you’ve been submitting for jobs getting you noticed? Are you receiving invitations to interview? If  not, we should talk! Contact me by phone: 1-866-562-0850 or email: for a NO COST, NO OBLIGATION 15-minute consultation. 

Kimberly Ben is a multi-credentialed Professional Resume and LinkedIn Writer and Job Search Coach. She has written hundreds of resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and other career communications for multiple career industries and professions. Kimberly’s extensive education, training, and experience have resulted in a clear understanding of current hiring best practices and the most effective job search techniques, branding strategies, and insight on what it takes to gain the competitive edge and impress employers in a challenging job market.

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