Breaking out of long term unemployment
Long term unemployment can wreak havoc on a person’s self-worth and wellbeing. Worse, big gaps on your CV may mark you as ‘damaged goods’.
I wouldn’t say there was a bias against employing someone who is unemployed, but it is a vicious circle, the longer you are out of work, the less attractive you look. Furthermore long term unemployment will make you anxious, insecure or depressed and this can hurt your chances of getting a job. Here are some tips which can help you get that really important job.
Step away from the computer
Job boards and social networking sites can be useful but they are not the only way of getting a job, nor is using Employment Agencies. Relying on these methods solely is not a good idea. It is important that you think outside the box, try networking – tell your friends, family, neighbours etc you are seeking employment, they may know of something. What about sending your CV to major employers in the local area to see if they have any current vacancies, whilst you are doing this don’t forget the public sector, the NHS for instance have what’s called a Bank, which is like an internal Agency for temporary office staff.
Look at your tactics
How much time a week are you spending on your job search? It should be like a full time job, dabbling a few hours a week is not going to get you a job, you should be spending several hours a day. Are you in touch with the Job Centre, they have really good jobs sometimes. When you have sent your CV to an employer do you follow it up a day later with a call to see if they have it and if they would like to interview you?
After you have had an interview, have you sent an email to say how much you would like the job and what you can bring to it? Have you followed up on training ideas? Every avenue should be explored.
Fill in the gap on your CV
A CV should be a history of your career to date, not necessary a chronological list of employment. For instance reverse your CV – start with your first job not your last, this way you could hook the reader before they realise you haven’t worked for a year. Don’t put precise dates on your CV, put years i.e.: 2015 – 2018 rather than 1/3/15 – 2/1/18, you can give more detailed information in your interview.
Do something you can put on your CV
Voluntary work is always a good thing to do. This shows a potential employer you care about your community and charity projects; it also shows you are not a member of the ‘lazy’ unemployed. Volunteering is also a great way to meet new people and network, possibly even leading to job opportunities.
Keep your skills sharp
There are lots of online training courses you can complete whilst unemployed, you could also consider taking professional qualifications which would support your current work experience. Additionally the Job Centre provides numerous training opportunities, ask to see a Career Advisor and find out what could be available for you. You may even consider doing a degree through the Open University, it would be a good thing to have on your CV.
Depending on your field there may be a market for your experience on a freelance basis. Particular skills that are easy to market are accountancy, secretarial and IT. Send your CV out to as many local employers as possible asking if they need a freelance temporary person to help out to cover holidays etc. Remember to try small companies as well as large organisations as smaller employers usually do need help when they have a member of staff off. Email your CV, do not post it, that way it doesn’t cost you anything. This could also be a good way of obtaining a permanent job.
Don’t be defensive about being unemployed
You’ve been out of work for a while. So what? So have many other people. Don’t hide behind the fact you have been unemployed in an interview, but don’t be prickly about it. It’s a good idea to stop using the term ‘unemployed’ and start using the expression ‘career break’. When someone asks you what you are doing now say “enjoying a career break”. See how much more positive you already feel just by changing your mind-set.
Please believe me by keeping yourself busy looking for a job, trying all methods, maintaining your skill set and adapting a positive attitude you will make yourself a better applicant for whatever position you apply for.
Happy Job search!