Must Do’s if you’re long-term unemployed.

Regardless of age, early-career, mid-career, and late-career, jobseekers face the challenge of being discriminated against if they have been unemployed for longer than three months.


They only want to hire “employed” candidates.
This week I sat next to a recruiter at a fund-raising luncheon. We started talking about the current job market and I mentioned a client of mine that might be of interest to her. The first question was, “Is she employed?” …sigh. Yes, my client was employed. The difficulty was that the recruiter’s clients wouldn’t consider a candidate if they are currently unemployed.

I can’t help but ask, “Why would an employer prefer an exhausted employee that’s been carrying the job load of three full-time employees to someone who is excited about their industry and ready to go in and prove themselves?” I don’t get it. Nonetheless, it’s here and we have to deal with it.

What is the real unemployment rate?
Just how the Bureau of Labor Statistics determines the job numbers depends on which set of research data they use. There are four tables that I think are important and give a more complete picture: the U3, U4, U5 and U6 tables. The U3 table is the"official unemployment rate".

The U4 rate includes discouraged workers and the U5 rate adds persons who are marginally attached—this includes the people who have given up hope and are not looking. Finally there is the U6 table which includes those people who have part-time jobs but want full-time jobs." You can see the latest reports here, with a complete explanation. Currently the U3 table is at 6.7%. The U6 is at 12.7%

Warren Cole Smith gave one of the best explanations on how to listen to "The Job Numbers" in a newscast on The World and Everything in It.
He explained:

“These government reports don’t tell the whole story. They fail to measure the underemployed…I mentioned that about a half million people got added back to the job market last month. But there are millions more still in this category that is sometimes called a group of discouraged workers….

"…no one report tells the entire truth but each report read properly and put into context does provide helpful clues.

"…we need to be careful about the information we share and listeners need to be careful about the information they consume. These government reports combined with reports from job markets from private sources slowly cause a picture to come into view.

"…while I would warn against reading anything into any single government report…they don’t tell the whole story."

Worried woman putting her hand on the head in the white background

Discouraged jobseekers beware:
Frequent advice (that I don’t necessarily recommend) tells jobseekers to:

  • Target companies and talk directly to hiring managers.
    (This can be easier said than done.)
  • Further, companies and hiring managers have learned to protect themselves from job-seeker-stalkers.
  • Call (and continue to call) your professional network. This is good for a while and it is important to educate your network, however, like hiring managers, many people are networked out. So many jobseekers are calling them that it’s hard to get their work done. Many (most?) don’t know how to help. When they try, jobseekers can often find themselves on wild goose chases that yield little or nothing.

If we understand why employers are hesitant to hire the unemployed then we can take steps to manage those concerns and assure employers that candidates are credible and should be considered.

Why employers are hesitant:

The good news is that figuring out the “why” isn’t difficult. It takes some research because it is often specific to the jobseeker’s industry. The focus is on two specific concerns:

  1. The jobseeker’s skill sets, recent experience, and industry knowledge will not be current.
  2. The jobseeker’s attitude and performance will not be “work-ready”. This refers to the rigor, stamina, and agility that is required to get up each day, go to work, manage the personalities, and handle the pressures in a productive, efficient manner.

How to manage employers’ concerns:

Concern No. 1:
The jobseeker’s skill sets, recent experience, and/or industry knowledge will not be current.
Check job postings. Identify the sets of skills and/or experience that are not represented on your résumé. This is where to target your volunteer work.

    1. Find a place where you can contribute and do some of this kind of work. This is an excellent use of your network. Ask them to help you find a place where you can volunteer and gain the needed experience. This also brings current, relevant references. Depending on your industry, your choices may be limited.
      • A recent nursing client needed experience with patients and discovered there was one place (therapeutic recreation) where he could be accepted as a volunteer without putting the facility at legal risk.
      • A finance professional wanted to move from non-profit into the manufacturing industry. She knew she could do the job, but experience was required. So she contacted a friend, to volunteer in a manufacturing facility, working in the finance area of their back office.
    2. Create a strategy to demonstrate that you are current in your industry.

      This might include:

          • Attending notable industry-related conferences. Discuss industry concerns, direction, and risks with others. Stay connected with them.
          • Insight

          • Actively participating in industry-related LinkedIn groups.
          • Create a project in your industry that gives you reason to connect with notable individuals and bring value.(This is true networking — where both parties receive value.)
            • A librarian is considering a project where he calls libraries in his state to identify their current challenges with regard to the needs of jobseekers and small businesses. The final report is to be presented to the Executive Director of the State Library Association.
            • A CEO in the medical inventions industry (a very small industry!), considered starting an invitation-only LI group of just 12 strategically chosen scientists and investors to identify their greatest concerns as they prepare new products for the medical market.
            • Current work experience should include your volunteer work, which should be related to the jobs you seek and should keep your skills current. It’s work you are doing and it belongs in the “Experience” section of résumé. Work experience is not about the paycheck. It’s about the work.

      Concern No. 2:
      The jobseeker’s attitude and performance will not be “work-ready”. This is the most difficult task for jobseekers yet it is the easiest to demonstrate. This information comes through on your cover letter and résumé in a variety of ways.

      • Keeping a positive attitude is critical and there are many articles that give solid advice.Most important is that each jobseeker finds what works for them with regard to their attitude. It comes across in everything we do and that includes the customization of cover letters, résumés, emails, etc.
      • Smart jobseekers know when they are not in the right frame of mind to communicate with their network, recruiters, and others associated with their job search.
        Article: Tips for Fighting the Funk
      • Cover letters and résumés should focus on the value the jobseeker brings to the company.
        Article: Cover Letter Essentials
      • ALL “elephants” (reasons not to hire) are managed on the cover letter and résumé.
        Articles: Résumé Challenges
      • The jobseeker’s LinkedIn profile is clearly in sync with their résumé.
      • Group activity is recent and consistent.
      • An Internet search on the individual doesn’t reveal any snags.
        Article: Managing Digital Dirt

      Exclamation Mark - lit up in the dark

      Key success factors:

      1. Technology now takes center-stage with regard to applying for jobs. Every jobseeker is required to understand Microsoft Word and PDF Document management, Internet searching, Password management, and Online forms and application systems. (Many libraries, community centers, and colleges provide free training.) Any jobseeker without these skills has crippled their job search
      2. Honesty is still the best policy.

      Are you getting interviews? If not The Forward Motion Differentiation Workshop can change that.

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