For the millions of people who are unemployed, finding a new job right now is difficult. Decreases in hiring over the past three years have led to a host of problems for those in the market. Whereas it once may have taken only two or three months to find employment, now it can be well over a year. This long-term unemployment comes with its own particular set of problems to overcome. The good news is that with the right tools and mindset, these challenges can be faced and won.
One of the biggest problems facing those who have been lost in the job market shuffle is the emotional ramifications. Repeated rejections can lead to feelings of doubt, inadequacy and depression (source). Job hunters may feel useless and that they have lost a vital part of their identity. It is extremely important that they remember that it is the tough economy, not their lack of skills or value, which is affecting their situation. Self-worth is not defined by a position in a company; it is one aspect of the complete picture. There is no shame in having been laid off from a job, or in getting professional help in dealing with any negative emotions that result.
Another issue for long-term job seekers is having the right equipment for applying to jobs: namely resumes, cover letters and work samples. A resume that is outdated or doesn’t show off all the achievements made at past jobs may cause a qualified candidate to be discounted before they even get an interview. All resumes and cover letters should be up-to-date and reflect every significant accomplishment in a concise, professional manner. A good way to ensure this is to have several other people review the resume and give feedback on improving it. Although it can be somewhat costly, having a professionally written resume is an excellent option as well.
Attitude is everything when it comes to looking for work, and some people make costly mistakes in this area. While it is possible that they can find another job quickly, it should not be taken for granted that this will be the case. Being proactive in the job hunt is the best defense against long-term unemployment. Individuals who are unemployed may also be hesitant to tell friends and family about this change for fear of being looked at or treated differently. This cuts them off from a list of people who may have contacts that can assist them in finding a job. It is usually best to let everyone possible know they are available for new opportunities.
It is also critical for job seekers to stay up-to-date with developments in their chosen fields. This is especially important for areas such as medicine, IT and education. Lengthy unemployment can lead to falling behind in skill and information, which in turn can harm efforts to find work. A good way to combat this is to look for other ways to continue using these skills, such as contract jobs, internships or even volunteer work. Not only will this keep skills sharp and current, it is valuable experience and reflects well on a resume.