The longer you’ve been out of the workforce, the more difficult it becomes to find a job. While it is horrible paradox, it is true nonetheless. It’s a known fact that many employers tend to shy away from hiring candidates who have been unemployed for a year or more.
Here are some tips for breaking out of the cycle of unemployment.
Explaining Work Gaps
One of the hardest things you have to do is explain to employers why you’ve been out of work so long. Just saying, “the economy is bad,” isn’t going to cut it. Here are some options for addressing work gaps on your resume.
If you’ve had other jobs outside your field, include them on your resume so that the employer knows that you’ve at least been working. Even if you had to take a job at a fast food restaurant, it shows the employer you were willing to do whatever you had to in order to keep working.
Consider using a functional resume that highlights your skills and experience instead of a chronological resume based on your work experience. Alternatively, you can also create a hybrid resume that shows your skills first and then your employment history.
Be self-employed. If you’ve been doing odd jobs, see if you can find a way to parlay that into something you can put on your resume, perhaps even under a business name.
Whatever you do, don’t lie about the reasons you’ve been out of work during the interview. Be honest and explain what circumstances led to your long period of unemployment and how you’re beyond them now. For example, if you were attending school, then make sure that it is on your resume and you show that you graduated. If you had medical problems, explain that you’ve fully recovered.
Also remember is to not over-explain the situation either. Give the interviewer the relevant information and let him or her move on to the next question. Try to steer the conversation away from the past and toward the future. Highlight how eager you are to work for the company, what you can bring to the table and mention some of your past accomplishments. Above all else, show the potential employer that you’re eager to get back to work.
Never go into an interview blind. Research everything you can about the company you are interviewing with. It will help you make conversation during the interview and it shows the hiring manager that you have a genuine interest in the company. All too often people don’t do their homework and know very little about the company they are interviewing with. This is one of those common job interview mistakes that you do not want to make.
Job Hunting Costs
If you’re feeling financially pinched because you’ve been out of work for a while, keep in mind that you can write off some of your job hunting expenses on your taxes. That means you will have to take an itemized deduction, but it will help you get a bigger tax refund. Know which costs you can and can’t write off on your taxes. If you are uncertain, and you can’t afford an accountant to help you determine your best deductions, contact the IRS.
Dealing with Money Problems
Having lost your main source of income, you may have accrued quite a few past due bills that are cutting into money that you need to look for a job. If that is the case, you may want to seek professional debt consolidation aid. This will help take some of the financial stress off your back so you can focus on finding a job.
Submitting resumes, filling out online applications and going to job interviews all get tedious after a while. The key thing is that you can’t let yourself get depressed. Stay focused on your goals and keep trying to find work no matter how long it takes. If you start to feel jaded or worn out, it is going to come across in job interviews and that is not the image you want to present to a potential employer. No matter how tough it is, remember that you WILL eventually find work.
Tony Standin is a personal finance specialist who has spent a great deal of time helping his clients get back on their feet after extended periods of unemployment. There is always light at the end of the financial tunnel.