Long-term unemployed? Feeling invisible to the hiring community? Confused? Frustrated? Hopeless?

This blog contains practical action points to demonstrate that you are ready to go back to work. These are the points that HR professionals and recruiters need to know before they decide to call you for an interview.


The last blog The Stigma of Long-term Unemployment……and Yet Another Round of Ageism sets the stage for this blog. It’s relatively short. Please read it if you haven’t had a chance to do so. It gives you good reason to be encouraged.

After talking to HR professionals and recruiters on this matter, three things were most important when considering the hire of a long-term unemployed person.

Again, here’s the list:

  1. Do you have experience that directly relates to the job qualifications?
  2. Are you “work ready?”
  3. Are you up to speed with technology?

If these concerns are not directly managed then an interview is not likely to follow. These are critical changes that I suggest you make on your résumé. Again and again, many clients have proven that this is these can be managed. It will take a great deal of care as well as some experimentation. My top suggestions are below.

How to manage long-term unemployment on your résumé.

Concern No. 1: Do you have direct experience?

  1. Be sure you are applying for the right jobs. If you don’t have direct experience then rethink whether you should apply.
  2. If you have direct experience, but it’s called something else on your résumé, then you will not be considered. Change the vocabulary!
    Example: an event manager who is applying for a position as project manager. Event management is a subclass of project management. But don’t ask your readers to make that connection when they have 8 seconds to review your résumé.
  3. Again – Use their vocabulary! It’s on the job posting.

Concern No. 2: Are you “work-ready?
The challenge:
It is amazing to most jobseekers how quickly their time fills up. Within a week or two, the day-to-day effort of living expands. Family often see an unemployed adult as “available” for a myriad of chores and other activities that quickly fill each day.

Many people, who haven’t worked for months at a time, get comfortable with their situation. Sometimes they really don’t want to go back to work. They really don’t want a job. They have an array of responsibilities and “work” to fill each day/week, and they are content. Truly, it’s no wonder that jobseekers get comfortable – given the intense struggle to find a job with repeated acts of disrespect and rejection that comes their way.

Many a long-term unemployed person eases into these kinds of situations—often without realizing it. Yet, a brief conversation reveals this condition of not being “work ready.”

Managing life in addition to the regimen of work takes a certain amount of endurance. It takes someone who is alert and has a sense of urgency.

Be honest with yourself. How badly do you want a job? Has lethargy inadvertently slipped in when you weren’t looking? Has your schedule filled up with a multitude of to-do lists? Are you actively looking for a new job with a sense of urgency and determination?


When was the last time you dressed up? Do you get up at the same time as when you were working? Are you groomed daily and are your clothes ready… in the event of an impromptu interview?

Work brings respect. Being “work ready” takes intentional effort, especially if a person is unemployed.

De Anne Bell makes a valid comment below that clarifies this section. Please read her comment and follow her on Twitter: @Deanne_N_Bell.


  1. If at all possible, find a place to use your primary skill sets. Even if it is without pay. Limit it to 20 hours per week so you have time to concentrate on your jobsearch.
  2. Then: list this in your work experience as your current work. Identify it as you would other work experience. Use a well-crafted bulleted list to identify your responsibilities. Use a “Results section” if appropriate. Update your LinkedIn Profile.

Note: Your primary skills may be useful in a family business or at a non-profit on a voluntary basis.

CONCERN No. 3: Are you technologically relevant?
There is very little excuse not to keep up with technology. Yes, there are proprietary systems that many jobseekers do not have access to, however, there free training is available for many common software applications such as Microsoft Office, Quickbooks and others.

Online learning

  1. Take online courses in MS Office—especially the newest upgrades. They are offered online at no cost. Enter them on your résumé under the Professional Development Section and indicate the current year.
  2. Consider taking supplemental courses from Lynda.com. Yes, it is an investment—and it could get you an interview.
  3. Consider other training that you can take to keep your mind sharp. A current client is taking an in-depth statistics course on the computation of risk management in the international regulatory industry. Really challenging stuff!
  4. Did you coach people (informally) on software in your last two positions? Did you help select, document requirements, or assist with the implementation of a new software program? Did you take any training on new software in your former jobs? What else did you do with technology? These should be listed in your bullet points. A list of current technologies (ones that are still being used), should be on your résumé.

How to manage change and monitor results in your résumé:

The purpose of your résumé is to get called for an interview for a job that you truly believe you can do and one that you are qualified for. Your résumé should be the most polished document you can produce (and that goes for your LinkedIn profile as well.)

  1. Apply to five jobs. Monitor your results. What are you getting back?
  2. If you don’t get anything back, then consider what the problem might be, make changes and apply for five more.
  3. It’s critical that you track your changes so you can consider cause and effect. Continue this process until you are getting interviews.

Be Encouraged!

Be diligent, be sharp, and don’t let your guard down.

Remember Patrick Flaherty’s words:

Patrick Flaherty
Patrick Flaherty

“This picture that employers have in mind simply doesn’t exist. Employers will need to come to terms with the idea that the best talent of people who are available to them are 55 years old and older —and it’s a great talent pool.”


He’s right. Be ready.

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2 thoughts on “How to Thwart Concerns About Your Long-term Unemployment

  1. Spot-on advice! The “are you work ready” mentality is key to conveying the desire to work. Barring having to relocate, a hiring manager may be hard-pressed to believe that a candidate is ready to hit the ground running immediately if after having been in a long-term unemployment status, they still need additional time before reporting to work.

    1. De Anne,
      Thank you for your comments and insights.
      I completely agree with De Anne and thank her for pointing out an oversight on my part. To be clear: “Work ready” in this blog indicates the mindset of someone who is current in their industry, moves and speaks with professionalism, and has the “edge of determination balanced with a pleasant work-demeanor.”

      De Anne makes the valid and essential point that people who have been unemployed still need time to regroup before returning to work. They will need to reorganize their home schedules, manage the activities and responsibilities that they have taken on during their unemployment— before they are ready to return to a work schedule. Please follow De Anne on Twitter for additional insights: @Deanne_N_Bell.

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