Scary Stuff About Unemployment … and what you can do about it!
By Lawrence M. Light, eJobCoach.com
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In the New York Times, an article entitled “The Jobless Trap” by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, says: “The key question is whether workers who have been unemployed for a long time eventually come to be seen as unemployable, tainted goods that nobody will buy.”
This is strong stuff. It is, indeed, scary!
One of the pieces of evidence Krugman cites is an experiment that involved resumes of 4,800 fictitious workers which were sent off in response to jobs listings. The result was that those with more than six months of unemployment got very few calls back, even when their qualifications were better than those who were not as qualified.
So what can you do about it? What course of action can increase your chances of getting that call back for an interview?
(1) Those who have been recently laid off.
(2) Those who have been unemployed for more than six months.
If you’re in the (1) category, you need to start your job search immediately so that any gap will be small. I’ve heard too many people, who feel burned out by being laid off, say that they want to take some time off, take a breather, lay back for a while. re-group and all-too-often this turns into a prolonged period before their savings run low and the wolf stands outside the door. Repeat: Start immediately!
If you’re in the (2) category, you need to learn how to minimize any gaps in your resume by filling in open time with consulting gigs, volunteer work, part-time work, independent contracts, being as inventive as possible about showing how you’ve been working during the time you were laid off. Fast summary: Close all gaps!
- Behind all this, you need to really understand how to re-write your resume so it becomes a powerhouse of a resume, as opposed to the countless ho-hum, monotonous resumes I’ve seen that most people send which documents their employment history and responsibilities. I can’t tell you how many resumes, from very qualified people, I’ve seen that don’t get call backs because they’re are lackluster. This document is the most important part of your portfolio.
- Frankly, too many people are complacent, almost smug about their resume to be able to judge it in the face of the overwhelming competition they face every time they send it out. They need to change it, and change it drastically if they want to be called for that all-important interview.
- And then there’s the matter of cover letters. Most people (and I state this after having read too many of them) do not know how to write a cover letter that adds value to your resume and, as a combination, makes the reader want to call you in for the interview. So learning this skill is also critical.
- Build yourself a network. Learn how to network so you don’t “burn up” your contacts. If you don’t know how, find out how but, for Heaven’s sake, don’t go around asking friends and relatives if they know anybody who has a job opening; it’ll get you in more trouble than you can imagine!
- Learn all you can about interviewing and prepare yourself beforehand, before you ever get asked to participate in one, not at the last minute. Learn about the various types of interviews, the questions that will be asked, and work with a job coach or a respected buddy to prepare yourself. Most people get galvanized only when an interview is asked for, which is always “last minute” preparation. The time to prepare yourself is long before an interview is even on the horizon.
- Make sure you understand social media and how to take that powerhouse of a resume and use it on Facebook or Linkedin, and find out, and use, all of the available tools for doing so. This includes learning how to network using social media.
- Keep current with the technology in your specialized field through social media, through networking, and through research.
- Don’t feel afraid to use the services of a job coach. It’s a sign of strength to know how to ask for help. I’ve seen too many people get to the end of their tether before they’ll ask anyone for help and it gets more difficult, the longer you’re out. And consider it an investment. Getting you back on track is worth the expense.
(Think about this: every month, if you were earning $36,000 US a year, is worth $3,000 to you. If a job coach helps you get a job one month quicker, it’s worth $3,000.)
- Get any chip off your shoulder about age discrimination because you’re “older.” If you have the slightest resentment about the time you’ve been out of work, if you feel unjustly singled out, if you’re feeling the littlest shred of “poor me”, get rid of it.
- Keep yourself in good physical shape. If you’re not exercising regularly, if you don’t do aerobics/cardio, flexibility and strength training, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. This helps incredibly with the emotional part of dealing with unemployment.
By doing these things consistently, I believe you can beat the odds. That’s what we’re talking about here. Who would have thought that a runner who lost both of his legs and had to resort to orthopaedic devices (“blade runners”) could have been a champion racer?
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For more information, if you want to discuss coaching or any other subject related to your job search, contact Lawrence M Light directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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