Long Term Unemployed? Don’t Give Up!

Long term unemployment insurance is in the news.  While Congress grapples with how to fund it, real people are still out looking for jobs and wondering about how to pay their bills.

Recently I’ve met with several friends who have been unemployed for over 6 months.  They’ve faced the concerns about unemployment insurance expiring and renewing, they’ve worried about making house payments and college tuition payments, and they’ve faced the psychological pressure of “what’s wrong with me that no one will hire me?”

Nothing is wrong with them – it’s the economy.  The rule of thumb these days is that it takes an average of 1 month of job search for every $10k in annual salary.  So, if you make $50,000 you should plan on being unemployed for 5 months.  That’s just a guideline, but it’s the best guideline I have. The bad part about that is, for every $50k job seeker that finds a job in 1 month there is another that won’t find one for 10 months.  That’s why it’s called an average.  And, with the slow rebound of the labor market, the average is growing.

So, you’ve been unemployed for 6 months or more.  You’ve got a great looking resume, you’re applying to jobs online, you’ve networked with everyone you can find, you go to job clubs and you’re just plain tired of the whole process.  Now what!?!  Here are a few ideas:

1 – Don’t stop.  As frustrating as it is, you’ve got to keep at it.  You have to keep networking, keep applying, and keep telling your story.  The next job will come and if opportunity knocks while you’re sitting on the couch watching soap operas and feeling sorry for yourself, you’ll miss it.  Get off the couch and spend some time every day actively looking for a job.

2 – Broaden your search.  If you’re not already doing so, look outside of your logical career path.  Think about different careers where you have transferrable skills.  If nothing else this will expose you to new network contacts.  Look under some different rocks and you may be surprised what you’ll find.

3 – Consider internships or part-time work.  Particularly if you are an experienced professional, think about offering yourself to a small company on a pro bono or inexpensive contract basis.  You won’t earn enough to threaten your unemployment, you’ll get to stay active in your field, you’ll make some new contacts, and you’ll have a great story to tell on your next interview.

4 – Take a part-time entry level job.  Look for an entry level job in retail or food service.  Sign up with some temp agencies.  Sure, you may be working below your skill level, but you’ll be working.  In addition to getting a paycheck (however small) you’ll get your confidence back.

5 – Do some volunteer work.  Spend some time working at a local soup kitchen, or animal shelter, or thrift shop, or reading to children, or where ever your passion is.  Again, this will get you out of the house, doing positive things and you’ll meet people who might be able to help you.  If you find joy in serving others you’ll never have a better opportunity to do so, than when you’re unemployed.

The adage still holds true, you have to plan the work and then work the plan.  Keep at it, keep your attitude positive and your energy high. You will find another job.  Believe.