I always feel really bad when I meet a person who is dealing with long-term unemployment, especially when the person really wants to work and are trying their best to find meaningful employment. The good thing is that I am often able to help these people find employment, and there is no greater joy than to help someone who has been struggling in this way. Most often, when someone struggles with long-term unemployment their families have also been affected. Unemployment can cause tension in marriages, children see their parents stressed, and the person that can’t find a job may even feel desperate. I have noticed a few trends while working with people in this situation that I will share in an effort to prevent others from having to go through this horrible experience.
1. They Don’t Have Clear Direction
Nothing will slow down a job search more than a lack of clear direction. If a person lacks direction it will show up in all aspects of their search. The job seekers resume isn’t focused, they apply to jobs in varying fields, and their search is just all over the place. These people are sending their resumes to any and everyone but there is no focus. Take the time to get to know more about your values, the types of activities you enjoy, and your personality. From there, target places that you would truly be interested in working for and do some research to find out more about the culture. Taking the time to do this beforehand actually makes your job search much more manageable. Once you have a target list of companies you can then start reaching out to people in the company to find out about what they are looking for in employees as opposed to applying to random companies you know nothing about.
2. Their Marketing Materials Are Not Good
With more and more companies using applicant tracking systems (ATS), many people are missing out on opportunities that would be a good fit. Some applicants may have the required experience and would be an asset to a company, but because their resumes are not formatted to get past ATS they never hear back from the company. I am amazed at how many people still don’t know that ATS exists.
Not only are the resumes formatted incorrectly, they don’t tell what the person will personally bring to an organization. Resumes that are built around task (what you do) as opposed to what you can bring (accomplishments) are all too common. Provide a brief section explaining what you do or did at your places of employment, and add some brief info about the company. Provide accomplishments that set you apart from other candidates. If you get stuck on this part of your resume you can view my post on this subject here. Crafting a letter that speaks directly to the Hiring Manager, highlights accomplishments of the company, and speaks to your success in similar situations the company is facing would be beneficial as well. No more boring bland cover-letter templates that most employers don’t read because of the lack of being unique. Liz Ryan’s Pain Letter is a good tool for this; you can read about it here. It goes without saying that you need to have a great LinkedIn profile since most Hiring Manager and Recruiters are using them to find qualified candidates. Unfortunately, there seems to be a huge disconnect between the way employers search for talent and the way people prefer to look for employment. A 2014 survey conducted by Jobvite revealed that 94 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and vet candidates, yet only 36 percent of job seekers are active on the site. In a world where employers are getting overloaded resumes for one position, you have to show why you are the perfect fit.
3. They Don’t Interview Well
A bad interview can be the result of multiple things. The key to a successful interview is to connect with the interviewer, find out the company’s culture and challenges they may be dealing with, show that you have related experience and have had success in similar situations, and close the interview on a positive note. This requires that you conduct thorough research beyond the normal looking on the company website, develop great questions, know your brand, and have a great attitude. Having a positive attitude is a big part of having a great interview. If you are nasty and appear that you will not be a great fit for the company, even if you have all the skills and experience needed, you will not be offered a position. When a person has experienced long-term unemployment, understandably they sometimes become discouraged and it shows in their interactions with others.
4. Targeting The Wrong Jobs
So many people are inquiring about jobs that they are not qualified for and wonder why they have not gotten any responses. I see this a lot with people who have completed post Bachelor level degrees but lack the experience for openings. Some people believe that just because they have two Master Degrees it will open the door to infinite possibilities—not so. Education is awesome, but if you lack the practical experience employers are looking for then employers will pass over you for positions. Often times what encourages a person to apply for jobs they are not qualified for is salary. They want the salary associated with a management or mid-level position, but they don’t have the experience. They think their education should fill the gap for lack of experience, but employers want both education and experience. Don’t waste time looking into jobs where you don’t meet most of the minimum requirements. If you have more education then experience you will still need to target entry-level opportunities that allow you to gain the experience in the industry, then you can apply for higher salary jobs.
5. Not Building Relationships
Some people are not aware of what it takes to obtain employment. Although job boards are tools that can be used to find out who is hiring, they should not be used as the sole resource of finding employment. In my opinion they actually should only be used to see what companies offer the kinds of jobs you are looking for. Research has shown that applying on job boards is not effective. As discussed above, companies are receiving an overabundance of applications for jobs. Since they don’t have time to look through all the resumes they are using applicant tracking systems to find candidates more quickly by weeding out people who don’t have the key words and terms they have programmed their systems to look for when people apply via a job board or on their website. Not to mention by the time a job is listed on a job board, the companies more than likely already have a person in mind for the job or are interviewing internal candidates and employee referrals.
Building relationships with people that are responsible for hiring or someone within the organization that can get your resume in front of the Hiring Manager is key to securing job interviews. If you are not super outgoing and don’t like going to networking events, that’s fine, you can use other methods. LinkedIn, email, and snail mail, are platforms you can use to actually have direct interactions with either a Hiring Manager or an employee that works for the company that may be willing to refer your resume. Sitting in front of a computer randomly applying for jobs is an activity that more often than not—leads to nothing.
6. Not Open To Advice
Most people who have done a thing a certain way without results are open to advice on new strategies. However, people I have worked with who have experienced long-term unemployment are slow to change their habits. Even after showing them the results of the approach you are trying to introduce they really don’t want to change what they are doing. The people that I have worked with who were open to new suggestions found employment. If you are experiencing long term unemployment, you must be open to new advice if you are to be successful in a job search.
Of course there are other factors that contribute to long-term unemployment: the economy, mismatches between the needs of employers and the skills, education, location of the unemployed, and unemployment insurance payments. Some people really need help and are down on their luck, while some people just aren’t aware of what it takes to conduct an active job search. I believe that affordable professional career services should be available to all Americans, just like health insurance. We all can use some advice when it comes to our careers but many choose to go at it alone in this area and I can’t figure out why. Some people are aware of the areas in which they need to improve upon if they are to land a job, but they are stubborn and won’t seek help to change, unfortunately their stint with unemployment may be unnecessarily prolonged. If you are someone who are experiencing long-term unemployment and would like assistance from a professional feel free to reach out to me anytime, I would love to help you in your search.
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Thanks for reading my post! I am the owner of Career SkyRocket LLC a professional resume writing, career coaching, and training service. I have also been published on CAREEREALISM as well. Follow my blog Career Thoughts. Let’s Connect! Follow me on Twitter, visit my Facebook page, or connect with me here on LinkedIn.