3 Tips for the Long-Term Unemployed

TheStreet.com

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Pinning down unemployment numbers is a tricky business, but according to the U.S. Department of Labor Employment Situation Summary Report for June, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined by 293,000 in June, to 3.1 million. Over the past year, the number of long-term unemployed has decreased by 1.2 million. 

While a good chunk of that number has been able to find full-time work, many still haven't, either accepting part-time work or stopping the search for work altogether.

For example, in June, the civilian labor force participation rate stood at 62.8% for the third consecutive month, an alarmingly low number in historic terms, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. "Additionally, the number of individuals employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased by 275,000 in June, to 7.5 million," the department reported. "The number of involuntary part-time workers is down over the year but has shown no clear trend in recent months. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job."

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Whatever the reason, the number of long-term unemployed U.S. adults is still unacceptably high, and for those stuck in neutral on a full-time job search that's going to be felt acutely.

"You are not damaged goods if you have been out of work for over six months," says Howard Seidel, of career transition firm Essex Partners. Seidel offers tips for both staffers and high-level executives to follow if they've been out of work six months to a year or more:

Set targets. Seidel says long-term unemployed professionals "need to evaluate their job searches at regular intervals -- three-month, six-month, nine-month marks, etc." And he advises answering these questions to diagnose issues and overcome barriers to getting hired:

  • What's going well in my job search?
  • What isn't going well and needs changing?
  • Am I getting responses to my resume?
  • Am I getting first interviews but not second interviews?
  • Am I making it to the final rounds of interviews but not getting job offers?
Make it easier for employers to find you. Seidel advises that you do your best to present a professional image and align the name and email address on your resume, LinkedIn profile and so on.

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"Don't make it any more difficult for hiring managers or executive recruiters to find you," he says. "If your personal email address is something like thefamilybunch@yahoo.com, you need to create a new account for your job search, like BobSmith@yahoo.com, so that employers can quickly find communications from you in their email inboxes."

Stay plugged in. Too many employers view the long-term job unemployed "as spoiled goods who have lost their competitive edge," Seidel says. Consequently, it's a good idea for long-term job-seekers to participate in some kind of work. "If you haven't landed permanent position by Month 5 or so, job-seekers should either work to secure a contract position, consult or volunteer. Working in some way demonstrates to employers you're active and serious on looking for a position and networking."

It's also advisable to show employers you are still in demand, never giving off the sense you're desperate for work, Seidel says. 

Yes, it's a tough slog looking for work over a long period. But keep cool, explore all options and don't give up. Employers are getting more aggressive about hiring, so a good job opportunity could be just around the corner -- as long as you keep looking.

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