For those who have been out of work, be it three months or three years, the frustrations of trying to find a job after long-term unemployment are an all too familiar feeling. After such a long period away from the industry you know and (hopefully) enjoy, depression can set in and plenty of self-doubt has time to build up within you.
Fortunately, hiring managers are more understanding than ever before. A recent CareerBuilder survey found that 85% of hiring managers are more understanding of employment gaps. This article hopes to get you back on your feet with seven tips to land you in the position that you are looking for.
1. Take a Class or Become Certified
Now is the time to develop your skills. Most industries have some form of higher learning, accreditation programs, or licensing involved. Since you are not working now, you have the chance to improve your skill set and make yourself even more hirable. Not only are you boosting your resume during this down time, but you’ll also find that working toward advancement can bring a sense of fulfillment.
Developing your skills can be vertical or lateral moves. If you are a computer programmer, learning another language can be a lateral move, opening you up for new projects and assignments you would not have been able to do without the knowledge. In other industries you might find that there are opportunities that can help move you up the ladder. Look into the different licensing laws your state has on your industry.
2. Find a Contract or Temporary Position
Filling the time between the present and your last date of employment is important. Not only will it make you feel better, but eliminating gaps on a resume shows your future employer that you’re active and care about staying busy and connected to your industry. If you are in an industry that has freelancers, look for contracts on your own. If you’re in real estate but don’t particularly want to work on your own, try to find a few properties you can help sell until you get the full time real estate position that you actually want.
Temporary positions, even if you are overqualified for them, are good for bringing in cash to support yourself and your family if nothing else. Chances are, however, you can end up learning something about a different industry. Or, perhaps, you’ll see a different side of your own industry by taking on a temporary position. The point is to stay active no matter what and keep your resume looking full.
3. Volunteer at a Non-Profit
Many people who are unemployed tend to put all of their focus and attention on the fact that they are not employed. This can be a difficult mental obstacle to surmount. For many, employment provides a sense of self-worth and value that cannot be replaced by anything else. As hard as it may be, you have to get past this conception of employment. We encourage you to focus on what you are doing, not on what you’re not doing.
Get involved in the community or with your children’s activities. When you volunteer your time to others, you’ll feel a sense of gratification unlike anything else. Opportunities are everywhere for volunteers, from feeding the homeless to participating in a community garden.
If you have children, take advantage of the time you have now to be involved with them. Coach a soccer team, drive the guys to Boy Scout camp and stay with them for the week. These are things you might not have the time to do once you are employed again.
Volunteering will fill your time, keep your mind sharp, and speak volumes about your character to future employers.
4. Start a Business Blog
More people are finding work through the internet than ever. For small business marketing, most all of the industry has moved online. Small businesses and large ones alike are increasingly active online, promoting themselves with social media as well as listening to customer feedback, complaints, and desires. By starting a business blog that highlights your knowledge and skills, you become a part of that community.
Social media sites that you can link with your blog allow you to connect with businesses and draw them back to your blog. A good blog can be as powerful as a strong resume these days. You never know what companies might be thinking about hiring even though they haven’t put out a public offer.
5. Start Your Own Business
Starting your own business is a great way to answer unemployment problems. For many, startup cash might be an obstacle. However, a strong business plan and the right connections could be the only solution you need to overcome this obstacle. By starting your own business, not only are you doing something you have already spent years learning and practicing professionally, but you also get the opportunity to learn and develop skills in other areas. A small business owner has to be good at providing his services while also having skills in customer service, sales, and accounting.
Starting your own business can be temporary if it doesn’t turn out to be what you want. Being able to show your future employer an entrepreneurial spirit and the results of hard work can be a large influencing factor in their decision to hire you. Not only do you exhibit strong qualities, but you’ve learned skills in other areas that you can bring to the table.
6. Follow Up on Your Resume Submission
One of the most discouraging aspects of applying for new jobs is the percentage of resumes that seem to disappear into a black hole. When you send out resume after resume and don’t hear any communication besides an auto response email, your situation can look rather bleak. However, you don’t have to let this happen to you. If you have the hiring manager’s contact information, follow up on your resume submission. Keeping a presence with the hiring manager or a contact you have in that company can be a game changer. If the position receives an overwhelming amount of resumes, the hiring manager might only be interested in interviewing those who follow up on the job.
A friendly email that asks if the hiring manager needs clarification about your resume could be all it takes to start a conversation that will lead to a job interview. Following up on a resume submission is critical for competitive positions.
7. Develop Ideas for Your Potential Employer
Employers love self-starters. When offered two impressive resumes, it’s almost certain that an employer will choose a resume that exhibits initiative over one that shows a willingness to follow. While both of these skills are important, you want to be the job candidate that is going to make your employer’s job easier. Demonstrate your value and work ethic to an employer by offering meticulous and creative solutions to problems.
Don’t go into an interview with an aim to correct the employer, but show that you have an awareness about what issues the company might face, and show them what you can do to offer a solution.
Following these seven steps can help you get closer to landing the job you find fulfilling and exciting!