10 tips for beating long-term unemployment

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There’s no question that long-term joblessness is a frustrating experience. Besides the financial consequences that come with prolonged unemployment, many job seekers find it difficult to stay motivated and to continue to push forward in a job search that’s proved fruitless month after month.

As tough as it is to constantly re-energize and find hope in an often-thankless process, maintaining an upbeat attitude and putting in continuous, focused effort is the only real way to put an end to long-term unemployment.

Despite the current economy, Ford R. Myers, career coach, speaker and author of “Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring,” has seen many people find great positions. The ones who conquer unemployment fastest, he says, are those who work hard, use a variety of resources and create opportunities for themselves.

“I see a huge difference between those who are finding new jobs quickly and those who are experiencing longer-term job searches,” Myers says. “The former have an excellent outlook and are incorporating a variety of strategies into finding their next career. The latter are randomly responding to job postings that barely reflect their interests and experiences.”

If you’ve been unemployed for a while, and your job search has become unfocused and uninspired, Myers offers the following 10 tips for getting back on track and beating unemployment once and for all.

1. Network, network, network. Perhaps more than anything else, your relationships will make the difference between long-term unemployment and finding a job quickly. Continually increase your level of networking and keep expanding your contact database.

2. Seek help. Get career support from a professional. A qualified career coach can better prepare you to land your next position.

3. Stay current. Attend seminars, read books and subscribe to newsletters and publications relevant to your industry. Keeping informed of business trends and the economy will help you gain greater knowledge of the industries and careers that are poised for future growth.

4. Create an online presence. Build profiles on social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with your industry and build greater visibility. If you’ve got the resources, create a website to house your résumé, samples of your work and a personal blog.

5. Create an offline presence. Position yourself as an expert by writing articles, giving presentations or teaching a class. Get involved in professional organizations and assume leadership roles there.

6. Pursue a temporary, part-time or contract position. Want to close the proverbial gap on your résumé, create valuable networking opportunities and gain work experience all at the same time? Volunteer, provide pro bono work, take on a consulting contract, or complete an internship or apprenticeship.

7. Improve and enhance all the documents in your career portfolio. Craft a unified package that consistently conveys a highly professional image of yourself. This will include a résumé, a one-page professional biography, powerful accomplishment stories, compelling cover letters, professional references, a list of targeted employers and a 30-second elevator speech.

8. Identify opportunities in healthy industries. Think about your skills in a new light by researching emerging opportunities and niches that will offer career growth, and position yourself to take advantage of these trends.

9. Practice interviewing and negotiation skills. Now is the time to brush up on crucial job search skills. Solicit the help of a partner to role-play with you, and switch roles as needed with the questions and answers. Practice with an audio-recording device, and listen to yourself as you continually improve your performance.

10. Watch your attitude. Your attitude is one part of your job search that is totally under your control. Maintain a positive outlook, and never state anything negative or act desperate. Spend some time each day focusing in and recalibrating your internal attitude.

Bottom line? “Conducting a successful job search campaign takes energy, discipline and career support. Despite the pressures many face in today’s employment market, job seekers must stay focused on their goals, use a variety of proven job search techniques and search smart,” Myers concludes.

For more job search tips and information on who’s hiring, check out the posts in our job search category.


  1. It’s high time many long-term unemployed used their skills in new ways to earn an income. There’s a nationwide effort from Buy Local groups across the nation to promote local commerce for holiday shopping. There’s a new e-commerce solution (click on my name) for local businesses to sell locally. Most local businesses don’t have the time or knowledge to manage an online storefront and this is an opportunity for job seekers to fill the gap by managing online storefront for other businesses and earning a percentage of the online sales they generate on SharedMall for those businesses. The opportunity is being made available only through certain non-profit Buy Local groups. Follow “SharedMall” on Facebook to be notified of upcoming Webinars for the job seekers on this very topic.

  2. This world is so age prejudiced, there is no way the senior citizen, no matter how much great experience, qualifications you have, or ambition and abilities, is going to get hired. More likely to get laughed at inwardly for their even thinking they are as good as the younger workers. You get a lot of humiliation and insults, along with no cooperation to be hired.

    • Very well said Charlene. Although I am not a senior citizen yet but I (and we all) will become one, I totally agree with you that the older you are the less incompetent you are considered. We are living in a jungle controlled by money hungry corporate.

    • I agree 100%. I have sent out over 1,000 resumes in the past 2 years with only 6 interviews. While waiting for or leaving the interview, you see the others you are competing with and know there’s no chance you’ll be hired. I hate filling out applications because once you give your birthdate, you know you aren’t going to be considered. What these employers don’t realize is that I’d be the guy that’s early every day and not looking for other jobs after learning from this one.

  3. I agree with ageism but I have also found that if you are over qualified and are out of work due to a lay off – no one wants to hire you. Their thinking is that once a job comes up in your field again you will bail. What they don’t seem to understand is that some people no longer have jobs because their trades are now automated. These people don’t even want to know the why and just go after hiring “kids.” Kids that they complain about that are unreliable instead of adults that don’t live at home with mommy and daddy paying their bills but have mortgages and rents to pay. When you hire someone that has some type of financial responsibility you will have a long term employee as they need to have a roof over their head, food on the table and utilities.

  4. I agree with all of the above! It also feels like employers have taken advantage of the unemployment rate and have lowered the starting wages knowing someone will be desperate enough to except it! Why else are the majority of posted jobs starting at $10-12 an hour? If you want a quality person working for you who will be dedicated and stay, then make the wage livable!

    • Ten and Twelve an hour! That’s awesome, here in New Mexico $7.50 is the starting point. Has been for years. Minimum wage needs to be raised so that workers can even obtain a raise!

  5. My husband did all of the above. Not only that but he was very good at his job and was highly rated in his field. He was involved in organizations and built up an extensive network.

    However, he has never been able to find a position in his field since he left his job seven years ago (due to disagreements with his employer). He has never even really been unemployed, he has been working ever since by doing freelance and consulting work projects overseas.

  6. One hurdle no one has mentioned is underemployment, which seems to be affecting many older people now that the “good” jobs are going to kids. I am 57, with a degree and 20+ years of experience in my field — and work in a physically-demanding warehouse job for $8.50 an hour. I am barely surviving, and there’s no end in sight.

    I may have closed at least some of the job gaps in my resume, but who will hire an older woman currently working in a warehouse? Not exactly competitive material.

    • Always focus on your strengths, and abilities that transfer to new jobs you want to obtain. I’ve found my skills transfer over to many fields. I’m sure there are things you do in your warehouse job that can carry over, like organizational skills, time management, written and oral communication. Older workers have work ethic and are more detailed oriented and bring experience to the job. I think we should say we are “mature workers” instead. Old implies you are unable to learn new things. We are only “old” when we can no longer grow. You can be old at any age! I don’t think I will ever be “old” because I learn, adapt, and continue to grow!!

  7. Well I understand with you all statements, but not all young people gets hired, case in point, I recently graduated college and truthfully speaking its hard out there. With that being said, your lucky if your working after college or even have one before graduating. Most of my peers either found a job a year after graduation, or decided to just go ahead to obtain a masters degree. Most times your either overqualified or your not. I sometimes view it as if your not on welfare with a GED and one or more kids your going to get passed over.

    • If over qualified don’t share the information that makes you so. Just share what pertains to the job, until the future gets better and better opportunities open up. That way you aren’t overlooked for the job if you are overqualified. I’ve been overqualified my entire life. Just don’t let on, so you can easily take the jobs.

  8. A new piece of advice I wish authors of articles like this would consider:

    Create a personal financial and life-skills plan in which you can use whatever savings you have to sustain yourself for the rest of your life if you are never hired again.

    This article focuses on the struggle to get another job, which is simply a losing struggle for many of us older folks. But there are lots of things we can do to provide for ourselves if we don’t have jobs. Grow our own food in the backyard. Stay healthy, avoiding expensive doctor’s visits. Make the things we need instead of buying them. Declare independence from the need ever to work in the economy again. Because we’re not welcome there anyway. Doing this is truly liberating.

  9. Working Contract has saved my life. I was laid off at the end of 2010 from a job that I had for 10 years. I was heartbroken and uncertain of my future. But then I signed up for classes and got a part-time job. Which I only had for a short time because a contract position that paid well. Not exactly what I was making before. But it paid the bills, got me out of the house and keep my resume from having any gapping holes.
    When that job ended, I found another contract postion immediately with the assistance of a recruiter. I am making my salary again with hopes that this one may become a permenant position. Don’t get me wrong it if tough, to not have vacation, holiday, and sick time pay. But I am working and gaining new skills and kepping th old ones fresh. My bills are getting paid and I only was on unemployment for 2 weeks.

    Get out there and take whatever comes your way. You will be better for it.

  10. To the people posting about not getting hired, look at your spelling. If this is an example of your resume skills I understand why you are not hired.

  11. I agree with most of what has been said. I was terminated from my job Sept 2010 due to my husband’s terminal illness (he passed Oct 23 2010.) Although I have been continually looking for permanent employment since then, I got hooked up with a temp agency and have worked a long term position for significantly less than I was making when I was working my other job. I think my age has had an affect on the positions for which I have interviewed though, sad to say.

  12. After reading some of your comments, here – I am glad to add my “two cents” – and dare say – some comments, though well-intended – are slightly off-base.

    I don’t know how it is, in the other 47 states – but I can certainly speak for W. Michigan. Our unemployment remains a steadfast 9%, which is still ridiculously high. Our local employment services office hosts “job fairs” almost every other month. But it’s always the same 20-30 companies. Most of us Seekers have already spoken to or interviewed with those HR people. No real change. And the whole thing has gotten downright exhausting (including mentally).

    I have visited (and applied) at several reputable Temp firms. In this area, 90% of the “recruiting” is all Industrial – due the Automotive reboom. Some of those agencies also host weekly “job fairs”. However – the actual work is horribly unsteady; one week a company needs 150-200 workers. Two weeks later they only need 75. The rest are back on the jobless line, seeking other work. It’s been a literal circus. Quite honestly, only about 25% of actual Industrial work is regularly available. Not very impressive, considering the still hundreds of out-of-work Seekers – even for short-term work (3-6 mos.) And please don’t get me started on Professional and Administrative work. Those areas have been few/far between.

    My area brags about the Auto industry being ‘busy busy’ – however, they cannot stand behind their figures. And two close friends of mine have tried to network me in to their companies, with no success. Either the position is on a late shift (I have school), or requires a skill I don’t have. It’s been a no-win situation.

    In closing, the comments and the media – who unfairly judge the continued ‘unemployed’; accusing us of “living off the system” (preferring to collect, than actually work) – need to take a couple steps back. We ARE ‘out there, looking’. It’s the actual work that isn’t readily available (full time only).

    The promissory jobs that are not out there; and the remaining competition for the few that are.

  13. I was terminated Dec. 14 2011. Reason, after getting a 11 foot, 650 lb. power frame dropped on me, I worked too slow. I asked for the documentation on which this reason was based….guess what? None,,,,No employee review, no company guidelines…nothiing. Also said I was not “Lead” material as I was hired. EXCUSE ME????? I am a former Supervisor for Nortel, Nokia, and Field Telecom, responsible for 2-10 men crews. I also was a Quality Inspector for Sprint. Again I asked for the documentation. None. I was never given the chance to be a “Lead” man. Anyway, such is life. After 42 years in Telecommunications, I never thought I would be having such a difficult time securing employment.

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