Standing At The Unemployment Threshold To Oblivion

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Standing At The Unemployment Threshold To OblivionStanding at the unemployment threshold to oblivion?

Has your unemployment been going on for a while now and are starting to feel like the world is against you? It might just be true.

Researchers report finding the first hard evidence of bias against the long-term unemployed. In 2011, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission conducted a study which found that people who were “unemployed 18 months or longer” were much less likely to be interviewed than someone with a much shorter time between jobs, according to HR Magazine (Jan. 2013).

So why exactly do companies hesitate in taking a closer look at people who have been on unemployment?

Many hiring managers cite concerns about the unemployed having lesser qualifications, or at the very least, not up-to-date with what is transpiring in their industry.

Unfortunately, this is a very unjust attitude as many people caught up in the layoffs are highly skilled workers and were simply the victims of economic circumstances, versus under-performers.

So what are some ways to overcome those perceptions of unemployment? Here are 5 tips to help get out from underneath employer bias against the unemployed:

1) Volunteer.  By volunteering in your target field, you can actually change your resume header for your employment section.  Instead, use “RELEVANT HISTORY” which does not explicitly state “work” – which is a way to then include a new job record of your relevant volunteer experience.

But make sure to actually indicate that you were a volunteer, such as “Volunteer Office Manager.”  You can include dates, and more importantly, ask to take on additional responsibilities or projects so you have ownership of outcomes that you can report back in your resume.  This can inject your career with some much-needed forward momentum, and remove employer doubts about your abilities and job knowledge, and help get you out of unemployment.

2) Network. Find out where these decision makers hang out, and insert yourself into those networking circles.

If they get to know you personally, you’ll have a better chance of removing any walls of preconception that they might have about your unemployment circumstances.

3) Accept contract or temp work.  Some is always better than none, and while it might not be your ideal situation, sometimes, taking a long-term view of how an extended period of employment might have on your career prospects might mean taking on less-than-optimum positions. Just to keep one’s hat in the proverbial ring.

4) Position yourself as a niche expert… then propose a job.  If you do your research right and can uncover/identify a compelling need for a company to use your services, you can make them want to hire you badly enough that they will overlook any unemployment gaps.

5) Get to know people at your target company.  Erasing the cold unfamiliarity of applicants that know nothing about the company or have no internal connections can help unemployed job seekers catapult over what previously seemed to be unbridgeable gaps in work history.  If someone knows you and has rapport with you at your target company, they will be more likely to be motivated to act on your behalf.

The more you can do to demonstrate activity in your career field during periods of extended unemployment, you can keep yourself in the game.

The trick is to never stop moving… the more active you are, the more momentum you have that propels you forward.

Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is a Certified Advanced Résumé Writer and the president of Portland, Ore.-based Pathfinder Writing and Career Services. Clients from across the United States and Canada and from all career levels have benefited from Dawn’s highly-focused and results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services. Many professional groups as well as colleges and universities have appreciated the insights and expertise she shares during presentations on career management topics, and she is a frequently requested national speaker as a result.

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