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How to overcome long-term unemployment...

Career Exploration The Hiring Process The Local Job Market Job Training Success on the Job

Question: I’ve been out of work for over six months. I know that’s not unusual in this economy, but I recently heard that many employers refuse to hire people who have been unemployed for a long time, as a general principle. What can I do? Answer: To some extent, that’s true. The theory goes that companies lay off their least effective/productive people first. So if you’ve been looking for a fairly long time (according to this theory), there’s a reason for it. The other side of the coin is that people who are working are, presumably, wanted by someone, and may have survived several layoffs by being better employees. Understandably, employers want the best possible person for the job. So what can you do, given that you can’t turn back the calendar? Start with a ruthless self-examination. Were you a great employee? Pull out those evaluations; do they support your opinion of yourself? If so, write down all the reasons, especially those you can document. If not, what could you do now (realistically) to improve yourself? Were you in the right job? Being in the wrong job takes a lot out of you. Give some serious thought to what the right job would be. Consider talking with your Career Specialist, doing some vocational testing, listing your transferable skills. (See the BEC Seminar and Events Calendar for our seminars on those last two topics.) What’s your backup plan? If you can’t get your ideal job, what would be your next choice? Consider pursuing that, and maybe even getting some training to make it possible. While you’re at it, consider training in general. Talk with your Career Specialist about what trainings are most likely to pay off. Prove to employers that you are not an old dog who can’t learn new tricks. (Prove it to yourself too, while you’re at it.) Volunteer! Volunteering does several great things for you: gives you new networking buddies, provides new and improved skills, and fills gaps in the résumé, among others. Finally, maintain your appearance, your attitude and your health. Dress for success for interviews, of course, but look your best at other times as well. Maintain your hairstyle; maintain your health, too, because that affects your appearance. Think positively; you can train yourself to do it. Do whatever it takes to maintain your self-esteem. Most of all, don’t give up. There is a job out there with your name on it (yes, there is!) And it probably is not with an employer who would eliminate you for something so superficial as being out of work for a specific period of time.