Tips for the long-term unemployed

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Although there are signs the economy is healing, there are still 15.3 million unemployed workers in America according to the most recent BLS data. Among those unemployed, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) continued to trend up, reaching 6.1 million in December 2009. That means 4-in-10 unemployed workers have been jobless for 6 months or longer.

In addition, about 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force last December, an increase of more than half a million from the previous year. Marginally attached persons are defined as those individuals who were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed, however, because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Have they simply given up?

“Unemployed people are facing some historic numbers and formidable competition. However, they need to pinpoint those areas they may be able to change, make a difference and increase their chances for success. Despite the odds, people are still landing jobs every day. Job seekers need to continually make adjustments, learn to run a focused campaign and never give up,” said Bob Wilson, managing partner of OI Partners-High Potential Inc. in Chicago.

If you are feeling the stress of long-term unemployment, here are some tips from Wilson and his colleagues at OI Partners:

Double-check your references: “Make sure that your references are telling potential employers what you think they are, and they are up to date on your skills and accomplishments. We suggest that our clients ‘groom’ their references constantly and determine in advance exactly what their references will say about them. Finally, use only those that will ‘sell’ you the best to potential employers,” Wilson says.

Be sure you are targeting the right industries: The health care industry has added 630,000 jobs since the recession began. Also, the financial services, manufacturing, and professional service industries are the most likely to re-hire people they have previously laid off, according to an OI Partners survey, indicating they may have cut back too deeply.

Increase your face-to-face contact: “Some long-term unemployed may be spending too much time looking for jobs and posting resumes online, and have not had enough face-to-face contact. Join networking groups, and increase your networking contacts by volunteering your services with civic, charitable, and religious groups. Continue attending professional association meetings, as well as finding out from your network what your target companies are doing in the marketplace,” Wilson says.

“You want to become knowledgeable in the areas of your interest. The often used term ‘networking’ is so very important. When you meet a contact and are able to tell your story, you don’t know who or how many that contact will be sharing your story with in the days and weeks to follow your meeting. That is why face time is key – be sure to keep your network up to date and informed. It is how jobs are being filled today,”  Wilson adds.

Use social networking Web sites to identify contacts within targeted companies and possible jobs that have not been posted or advertised: Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter are particularly helpful for finding inside contacts. “Work these electronic networking media to identify fellow alumni, friends, and former colleagues who may be internal contacts who can be helpful in getting your resume reviewed,” Wilson says.

Focus on the immediate value you can bring to an employer: “You may not have clearly communicated to potential employers what you can do for them right now and within your first three months on the job. Be sure to clarify your value proposition, including a performance pledge and a timetable for achieving results,” Wilson says. ” Employers want to find people who can help with one of three things: increase revenue, decrease costs, or mitigate risk.”

  1. Pingback: Tips for the long-term unemployed | - Employment Agency and Career Placement Service

  2. The idea of using Facebook and Twitter for job seeking is absurd! There’s nothing about these sites that is useful for business networking, they are for dumb teenagers. Linkedin is the site to use.

  3. This is a very interesting article! I am also considering writing something along the same lines with further suggestions and ideas.
    Can you please let me know how I can do this, and get published? I don’t want to blog.
    Thank you

  4. what ever works…give it a try. It has been more than a year for me,I am running out of options ……sometimes it is like the world forgot you and you can’t stop the free fall

  5. 1. Research the company before the interview. The question, “So, you know what we do here” is rhetorical; they expect you to have done your homework. 2. Review your resume, not only for grammatical errors, but also for applicability to the positions for which you are applying. 3. Put yourself in your interviewer’s place. Ask yourself – as obbjectively as possible – if you were them would you hire you? 4. Don’t be afraid to apply with the same company multiple times (just not every other day). When something becomes available, the last resume received is often the first considered.

  6. I retired early at 55 but on a greatly reduced retirement income. It won’t won’t pay half the normal bills but it was better than a pink slip, unemployment check and no insurance. I’m beginning to believe I need to find some way to be self employed. Over the last few months interviews have been very few and no offers. How do you indicate on facebook that I am looking d
    for work? How do you communicate that without sounding desparate? My financial resources are running out while I’m looking.

  7. For long term unemployed people who have some level of writing ability, finding freelance writing jobs can be a viable option for generating an income almost immediately. There are companies constantly looking for writers to write content for websites and I have found myself using this to supplement my income. You can read my article which lists numerous freelance job boards as well as ways to promote yourself. The whole article can be found at

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  11. A few years ago, Congress enacted ways for credit customers to view their own, previously super-secret, credit reports. The errors and damage done by them were astounding. Remember the “60 Minutes” report on how many former Equifax employees were being pressured to come up with dirt on credit customers?

    Likewise, how can one find out if their past employers are being personally contacted by potential new employers, or if they go through a clearinghouse that amasses workplace history data?

    It’s bad enough that so many employer use credit checks as an indicator of your character, when your ABILITY to pay your bills and INCLINATION to are two completely different things.

    By their reasoning, a slacker who spends every day in Mommy’s basement watching porn and scamming web surfers out of their credit card and bank account numbers, but has Mommy pay his bills, has superior character to the honest, budget-crunched worker barely hanging on with two jobs.

    I would love to see what these databanks hold on my work history, because I don’t want to lie on my app, nor do I wish to list absolutely everything, much which may be irrelevant to the new employer, and, since I worked in extremely volatile, high-turnover industries with a high rate of business failures, may make me look unstable.

    Does anyone know if it’s possible to contact clearinghouses and see what they have in your work history “dossier”, if you’ll pardon the James Bond paranoia?

  12. Sure like your going to get a job in a field in which you have no experience. I am sick of people saying you should look in the health care industry they are hiring. Sure I will get right in that when I have no experience in that field at all. I am 48 years old have already been through 3 major career changes. My most recent was as a builder/home improvement contractor. before that graphic designer, before that Army helicopter crew chief. I even went to reenlist but because of my age they will not accept me. Funny I am in great physical shape and you would think is we were really serious about the two wars we are fighting they should be more then happy to have me.
    I bet in WWII if I was 48 and ready to go fight and die they would take me no problem.

    I am not even counted as unemployed since I was self employed and considered a small business. I still have some work but right now it is costing me more to keep my company going then I am making.
    I am even worse off then unemployed I am bleeding money every month not even counting personal bills.

  13. I’m in the same situation so I can relate. Employers are not concerned with experience, veterans, self employment, career changers or anything else out of the “norm” of cubicle automatons and of course, their profits. Sorry but I’m not doing the “mental jail” that is cubicle hell! Know of any civilian jobs in Iraq or even that Bangalore job that’s posted?

  14. My guess is that the majority of the 15.3 million long term unemployed are over the age of 50. It’s shameful the way businesses blatantly discriminate against senior experienced candidates and get away with it. I’ve had interviewers actually ask how old I was which is clearly illegal. I was also told by a business acquaintance that another hiring manager told her they were not looking for a “middle aged white guy” to fill a position they had posted. The tragedy is that these businesses know they can get away with it so the number of long term senior unemployed candidates will not likely change much.

  15. Regarding “Tips for the long term unemployed”, a comment was posted about how to check the clearinghouses with a persons past employment data. What are these clearinghouses/databanks? Are there such things that employers subscribe to that hold our information or past resumes?

  16. Pingback: January job numbers redux » Techie Masala

  17. Over 50 and begin another certification. No job,but continuing education in the meantime. Broke, trying to weather it out. After this one, will have 3 certifications, will it help??? Self improvement. I do no waste my time. Had a few interviews. Have hope

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  20. I am a 53 year old female with a 3 year old Bachelor Degree in Health Care Admin. The multiple health care website I have checked into are mostly for nurses, medical billing anne coding. When the education benefit was offered I wanted to learn one of those skills. However, with a bachelors degree I didn’t qualify. I suspect few were motivated to use this benefit.

    My other issue is that worked part time prior to my unemployment. I had previously worked 6 plus years at the same job. Understandably, my benefit amount is low, but I have not “qualified” for the all the weeks available. It appears that working part time is a very bad choice. So those of us who look and only find part time jobs, it is probably a bad idea. Anyone else with this issue?

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  22. Quick Tip:

    For the unemployed who lack education such as a high school diploma or a college degree, use this time to enroll back in school. Since you do not have a full time job, this is the best time to finish school. How will I pay for schooling, you ask? Financial Aid! Jobless individuals have a substantial chance in receiveing federal assistance since they have no solid income. In addition, the college may be able to set up a full or part time job on campus for you.

    Although being between the ages of 30-50 and in college may be an embarressing thought, think of the rewarding outcome. Remember, you are not alone. No one says you have to live in the dormitories or even eat in the cafeteria like a “freshman” but the opportunity of receiving a degree and a much larger chance in getting a job should be rewarding enough.

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  25. Pingback: Do unemployment benefits deter job seeking? : The Work Buzz

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  28. Pingback: Do unemployment benefits deter job seeking? | Only Delhi Jobs - Delhi's Job Search HQ | Delhi Jobs

  29. Pingback: 100 Inspiring Productivity Ideas for the Unemployed | Online Degree

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  31. There are many jobs out there. Companies such as: Schwans Foods,Fastenal, Home Depot,and Lowes are consistently hiring. Here is a couple of good websites to go to for any job seekers that aren’t aware of: Simply Hired, and Indeed. Good luck everyone.

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  33. Thank you for the helpful tips. Particularly, checking your references and keeping them up to date could make all the difference. For a limited time, the Relationship Capital Co. is offering free job search training for your unemployed readers at: <a href=http://RelationshipCapital.Co/JobNetworkingPrimer/?utm source=bl&utm medium=sm&utm content=a/”>Relationship Capital Co.</a>

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