Get back to work! Tips for the long-term unemployed

The reasons for which people find themselves out of work for long periods are many and varied. Whether you have been out of work for personal reasons (illness, family crisis, raising children) or by choice (ski seasons, summer seasons, an unintentionally extended career break), the results are always the same: a great yawning hole in your CV. Getting back to work can then be considerably trickier since you now lack recent and relevant experience, and most companies seem incapable of taking a chance on their next recruit. However, an incomplete CV may not be the sole cause of the problem. For instance, many job seekers target niche markets or simply aim too high, while others have not yet discovered that they interview poorly or have bad references. Fortunately, these are all factors which can be improved with a little perseverance and some external careers advice.

If you feel your CV is holding you back, there are several ways in which you can fill in the gaps. Consider further education, which either adds another academic qualification or provides you with a trade skill, putting you a step ahead of the competition, though beware that this could be a costly affair. Volunteering and charity work are great ways to keep active, meet people and make job networking links. If possible, subscribe to a temping agency and take on any part-time work you are offered. This will prove that you do not wish the grass to grow under your feet any longer. Try not to lose any existing skills you have, such as languages and sports, so your CV remains up to date.

Back to work

Once you are happy that you are doing everything possible to enhance your CV and your employment chances, it is essential to keep the job hunt going. The first step is to subscribe to a recruiting agency, which will help link your CV to relevant job descriptions while you search yourself. Spending 20-30 hours per week looking for work is recommended, time which is best spent targeting jobs you are truly qualified for or writing to your most desirable employers. In applications, always try turning a negative into a positive. For example, your long-term unemployment means you fully appreciate the value of a job. You can get further advice from careers centres where advisors provide interview coaching and often highlight strengths which you had not seen for yourself.

It can be an emotional and difficult time but it is essential to remain positive and not become despondent or desperate. Do not isolate yourself from friends and family (nor burden them continuously with your problems) but keep enjoying doing the things you can afford. When you find that much desired job, everyone will be delighted for you and you can really thank them for their support.

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