I've read articles that cite studies showing convicted felons have an easier time getting hired than the long-term unemployed.
I won't deny the facts: People who have been unemployed for an extended period of time are discriminated against. It's terrible, but it's the truth.
I've worked with thousands of job seekers inside Work It Daily, many of whom had been out of work for a long time, multiple years in some cases. Here are three techniques that helped them get back to work and beat the unemployment stigma:
Stop Looking For A Job
When we look for a job, we force ourselves to try to fit into an existing job description. It's like being a size eight in shoes but trying to fit into a size five; it doesn't feel right.
I have job seekers step back and focus on a problem to solve. What challenges are businesses facing today in their industry? How does their skill set solve that problem? And above all else, how do they save or make the company enough money to justify hiring them.
Press "Play" On Life
Long-term job seekers have usually become quite reclusive. They don't engage in social activities because they are sick of being asked, "What do you do?"
As a result, they stop going out. Furthermore, they punish themselves for not having a job by not allowing themselves to have any fun. They hold happiness hostage, saying to themselves, "I can do those things when I finally get a job."
Well, withholding happiness is no way to get a job. You need to feel good about yourself in order to have the confidence and motivation needed to job search.
I tell job seekers to get out there and have fun. Meet as many people as you can. When the question, "What do you do?" comes up, simply say, "I specialize in solving (insert your answer from technique number one here) problems for companies," and leave it at that. If they ask you where you work, simply say, "I'm actually on the job hunt right now," and move on.
Keep it positive and simple. You'll find people will respond to the low-key nature of how you presented your employment situation and may even ask more questions as a way to help you.
You never know when a simple event could turn into a networking opportunity. Your job is to stay positive and enjoy the event. If someone wants to help you—that's a bonus!
Get A 360 Feedback Evaluation
I find a lot of folks who have been unemployed for a long time can't really see themselves objectively. They have been in the hunt for so long, they can't tell what's working and what's not. Moreover, they've gone back and tweaked their job search tools so many times that they can't see how off base they've made them (i.e. resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter, etc.). And then, there is the interview attire and the way they answer behavioral questions.
Having been unemployed for so long, they are either outdated, or create a look of desperation. In short, their personal brand (a.k.a. how they are marketing themselves) is all wrong—and they can't see it.
I suggest they get an objective professional to do a 360 evaluation on their job search efforts. They should have every aspect of their job search strategy and tools evaluated to see if they are A) up-to-date, and B) sending the right message. Getting this type of help can make a huge difference.
The changes and improvements made as a result of the feedback usually give the job seeker new hope in their ability to find work.
Besides the advice above, I also think it's wise to get advice from those who have successfully beat long-term unemployment. So, each time I get an email from a client who was unemployed a long time and finally found a job, I always ask them, "Now that you did it, what's the one piece of advice you would give someone who is where you once were."
The answer is always the same...never give up! They say it with such passion, too. They go on to discuss how they are glad I pushed them to keep going. How, as much as they didn't want to try new techniques, they were now glad that they did. And always, they say how grateful they were I didn't give up on them, and more importantly, they didn't give up on themselves.
So, I hope you'll give the above techniques a try. You've got nothing to lose, right?
Looking for some additional feedback?
Try Work It Daily's FREE Workplace Personas Quiz to learn more about how you fit in the workplace.
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Work It Daily has a team of trained career support specialists that will work individually with you to come up with a specialized plan. All of our memberships offer private coaching along with unlimited networking potential, and a library of exclusive career courses. Additionally, and for no extra cost, you'll also receive unlimited resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile reviews by our trained specialists as part of our membership.
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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