Are You Unemployable?

Scary Stuff About Unemployment … and what you can do about it!

By Lawrence M. Light,                                                                                                                        

Learn How To Overcome this Scary Stuff. Get Your Executive Job Search Kit. A 4 part Video/Ebook series-an Interns Over 40 Exclusive Now.

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?

unemployed personTwo categories of those who have been laid off come to mind. In which category are you?

(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

Learn the specifics about how to combat this age bias by acquiring one, or more, of the eBook-Video combos described here.  These in-depth offerings show you specifically how to avoid the “unemployment gap”.  By using the information contained in them, you’ll find yourself getting more interviews, more job opportunities, and jump-starting your job search efforts! Start Here and Now.






  16 comments for “Are You Unemployable?

  1. April 29, 2013 at 5:16 am

    I was unemployed for a long time, due to illness. At one time my doctor signed a release for my student loans stating I was unlikely to recover – ever. Fortunately, I did recover, at least enough to work. Working in the industry of my first 10 year career was out of the question: post-production sound for major feature films – the technology had changed radically, and my reputation was somewhat “tainted.” I found jobs that needed to be filled: Tour Guide, Substitute Teacher. I did additional research that added value to my performance, and boosted my confidence. Meanwhile, I pursued my keen interest in web site programming. About 10 years ago I began taking on web development freelance projects. About 7 years ago I identified Drupal as a tool I wanted to use, and today Drupal skills are in great demand. CNET published two articles in the past few years recommending unemployed IT professionals to learn Drupal because of the unmet demand. I meet young people bummed about being laid off from their first jobs, and I tell them I am being succesful in my 4th or 5th career, rebounding by following my interests and leveraging my skills.

  2. james
    April 29, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    The article might become actually useful if it included an in-depth explanation (with *relevant* examples) of what makes a resume a “Powerhouse” resume instead of just another “ho-hum, monotonous resume”. It would also be useful information if the author would identify what makes a cover letter a “value-added” letter, again, with some relevant examples. As it is, the article basically is just telling us all that we’re boring and ordinary and that’s why no one wants to hire us.

  3. blanche cordero
    May 11, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    well i guess i am. so now what? I have no money because no one will hire me. We are so far in debt, we can’t spend an extra penny. While Amazon pays no income tax, my family is sliding into poverty after working for 20 years for one company and 10 for another until it went bankrupt. You didn’t respond to my first email. So I’m asking again. It seems that this is the new way of dealing with people – ignore. Turn your back on then. I really don’t like what has happened to the general corp world. It truly sucks and as well as all the parisites that try to suck whatever blood is left with their offers to help the unemployed. You know how you can help – just stop the discrimination. all the webinars, books, resumes, etc. will not stop the discrimination in our country against the unemployed and the people who are considered too old. Who knows what age that is now. It seems to get lower and lower.

  4. May 21, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Its all great advice IF you have, for example $3000.00 to part with in the first place.

    I myself, do not have an extra $3000 lying around to hire a coach. I totally empathize with those are made redundant. It is tiring to hear over and over again you have no “marketable” skills, and then see that same company hire a 20 or 30-something year old who has no skills and train them for the same position you might have applied and interviewed for. It is discouraging knowing you are trying everything you can afford to do and still appear to have little or no value to offer an employer.

  5. June 27, 2013 at 11:29 am

    I have done every last thing on this list and now after learning how to network and what to say to people, I finally feel like I have mastered the art of networking and I have a job interview tomorrow. So at least I know I am applying for jobs and my connections are working for me. I know it will take time, but hopefully people will see that I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing. And I am creating one massive size spreadsheet to show how I know someone, where they work, who we have in common and that type of stuff. I hope I can get lots more people to view my website so employers can get start calling me for interviews.

  6. Valerie Pounds
    February 11, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Am I unemployable?  The answer to this question is no, and I do not believe anyone else is.  Many of us need help, we have to be willing to invest in ourselves.  I learned many things, just by being a part of LinkedIn.  I am member of multiple groups, and we all help each other.  The key to being employable is being open, open to learning, open to critcism, being willing to try things that you have never tried before…..

  7. Karren Cahalan
    February 14, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Valerie is right. The key to being employable is being open and trying new things. If what you are doing now to find a job is not wokding, change it.

    This article pointed out that having a "chip on your shoulder" is negative. That chip can be about anything: age, race, gender, etc.  I heard that "chip" loud and clear from several comments. Get rid of it. It won't help you in an interview, on your resume or cover letter. And, talking to family and friends with that attitude won't encourage them to help or recommend you especially with their own company. No one wants a Sad-Sally as a co-worker.

    Also, I don't think you're going to get all the answers from one piece. It's one persons opinion. Take a few good points from this article and a few from several others to create your own stratagy. But don't give up. If it doesn't work, read some more and change again. I read one article that suggested volunteering. Sure it doesn't pay but for a few hours a day or week you gain new contacts, new experiences, and maybe even new skills. And on a resume it shows that you do not prefer to vegg out at home and rely on others to support you.

    I have been with the same company for over 13 years (knock on wood).  My position has been eliminated and revised so many times I no longer do what I was originally hired to do. Luckily I've been able to evolve and grow with the company over the years.

    Everything changes. If it doesn't, it dies.

  8. Bert
    February 17, 2014 at 7:51 am

    A modern, little-discussed phenomenon of our times, is the 'blacklist'. They're always on and on about people's reputations, well, if you don't have a good reputation, don't expect to get hired, even if you're reasonably qualified. But, what if you A) have a shaky reputation, and B) have an outdated skillset? Um…now you have a problem, because HR managers are looking for peoplee who are reliable, aren't going to bring legal problems into their worksites, and are competent, capable, and skilled. Another aspect to consider is that age-ism is also a factor. If you're in your early-to-mid-40's, and it's been a long time since you went to school, and you don't have a 6-figure work history, the response is probably going to be: NEXT!, because your prospective employer probably also doesn't want incipient health problems coming on to the worksite. 


    The ideal employee candidate is intelligent, educated, young(er), not set in their ways, and not a problem-in-waiting, so, low-maintenance. Motivated. Interested. Eager. Maybe a little gullible? Whatever combination of appealing attributes might be at play, there, if that's not you, you're out. Or, never hired in the first place. Stir in a double shot of globalization, and the international labor marketplace, and if you're outside the 'box', it sucks to be you. 


    Luckily, all is not lost for older jobseekers. There is also always the option of starting your own business. If the shirts at some company won't hire you, in a way, that might be a blessing in disguise, because here's your chance to prove what you've got, all by yourself, or in the company of a small group of people. 

    Don't give up, but do recognize that the game has changed, a little, and that for you to excel and succeed might require changing your approach, changing your education level, changing your location, tuning up the wardrobe, and working on your attitude, because you don't have to be unemployed for very long to get a bad attitude. Going to a job interview with that attitude of resignation is almost a surefire guarantee of not getting hired, so leave that one at home. 

  9. shriraam
    February 26, 2014 at 6:31 am

    I like to unmask myself!! My name is Shriraam living in India. I was a College lecturer 2 months ago.Due to lack of support from Institution I left my job. Now am unemployee it is a great humiliation for me.I am more disheartened and dimnished right now. I like electronics too.. particularly passive Electronic components. i can work with it well but no one ready to hear me and to give opportunity. Hence I entered into a Networking training in one private institution. What to do? to occupy a job some additional qualifications are needed!!! I like to work in VISHAY INTERTECHNOLOGY (INDIA). Could you help me to get job there??? I don't want to be a Lecturer or Professor more!! I like to work with components. who reading my passage please help me give me some ethical Ideas to get a company job. every recruiter asking some people to refer the candidate! I don't know for what they seeking references.

    Anticipating for your good answer!! Kindly mail me.

  10. tlfarmer
    March 3, 2014 at 6:58 am

    While I don't disagree with everything being said I do think it's real easy for people with jobs trying to tell others how to get jobs.  When you have no money, even scrimping on gas, you can't just go out and spend money you need to live on.  No one understands unless they are in the situation.  No one understood my situation until they ended up experiencing it themselves or had someone close to them experience it. Where I live there is both age and race discrimination and I am on the wrong side of both.  I just keep praying for our nation because we are not alone in this struggle.  And this recession/depression that the government keeps saying doesn't exist, doesn't care about level of education or amount of experience, the numbers are way hire than are being reported.

  11. George Romey
    June 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    The author makes good points. However, I can safely say I have done all of those things but yet no permanent job. I get from recruiters and hiring managers that I have great experience and education, an upbeat attitude and personality, solid intuition, etc. But the position in their eyes really does not require those attributes. It seems as though all of the values that were regarded highly in the marketplace have no relevance anymore. Instead, its about more technical job skills like experience with a certain system. Ten years back it was no big deal. You had dealt with other systems and learning one more was not considered a major stumbling block. Today recruiters and even hiring managers seem to think you would never be able to learn new skills or they do not want someone that might need a small learning curve.

    I really do not what the answer is. At what point does a recruiter come to understand that smart people learn very quickly. Moreover, if someone makes the effort to take care of themselves they can be just as energetic and committed as a 25 year old.

  12. Robert
    July 9, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Sending resumes online is a waste of time. The Internet is an awesome tool to research companies. Google what you are looking for in terms of work. Find out who the owner/CEO/hiring manager is. Sit down and write a letter. Don’t send them your resume or ask for a job. Tell them you admire their company and what they’re doing and that you do the same work. Suggest you network with them and that perhaps you can discuss mutual business interests. Mail the letter with a hand-written address. Don’t e-mail!!!. Mail it. Mail many.

    Probably 1 in 10 will respond. Be professionally aggressive. Don’t follow the hundreds of thousands of marching ants, be unique. Don’t give up. It’s a lot of work but it will land you a BETTER job that’s not advertised. Just stick to it and be unique. Don’t be suckered in by mass media!!

  13. September 3, 2014 at 8:43 am

    How has this worked for you, Robert? Has it gotten you interviews and a job?

  14. Vic of goodolegirls
    April 29, 2015 at 9:14 am

    One solution to consider is to lie. Not bold faced, blatant lies but the type of lies a seasoned sales rep makes. For example, if you were out of work for a year, include self employment in your resume to fill the gap. You should gain some knowledge of the alleged business and this would be looked at as a big positive for some employers. If you do this, no harm done – you know you have exceptional qualifications for the position that you are interviewing for and besides, how many “white lies” is the interviewer feeding you? All is fair in love, war and job searching.
    After I got my MBA and could not find a job for almost a year I followed the example of a roommate who had flunked out of his last semester in Chemical Engineering. He got a great job after claiming he had earned his degree and a couple of years later formed his own company. Thirty years later he is very comfortable, semi retired and has a year long tan.

  15. 50yonurseinNA.
    August 17, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Well, I had a mental health issue that surfaced at age 54. I am now unemployable. I developed a substance abuse problem. I took some drugs from work. I got caught. I experienced total insanity. I swear I was insane, I had 30 years of a good work history and I didn’t ask for help when I needed it. Worst of all my kind Healthcare peers didn’t offer any help. They judged and crucified me when I was actually ill. I have a felony and misdemeanor record now and am fighting to keep my nursing license thru a monitoring program associated with the board of nursing in my state. I am doing incredible work in personal , spiritual, emotional, ethical, physical, growth. I am putting in the time and commitment to embrace recovery and make sure I stay mentally and physically healthy. I want to resume working. I am severely tainted now. The monitoring program I am with is not allowed to advocate for its nurses. The board has requested this. They don’t help you find work. They don’t provide access to other nurses for community support.
    I can’t “pass” a background test. (Whatever that entails) Employers will not work with you if they see you are being monitored. (Which actually makes us safer employees) My 30 year career and college degree now worthless because of a brain disease. The worst part is the Healthcare community should be active supporters of the culture of recovery, the civility culture and the effort needed to work a good program but they are not.
    I would be so grateful for a second chance I would be the best employee ever and best patient advocate. Our society needs to follow the compassion, kindness push and give second chances to persons active in trying to” make a life worth living”. I’m still working on the steps, I pray everyday. Pray for me and the addict who never asks for help.

  16. William Osterberg
    January 18, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    I guess I am supposed to view myself as among those who foolishly resigned from a six figure job. However, sometimes taking time for a reassessment or for personal matters IS the right thing to do. In my case the last three jobs have been disasters as I was poorly treated and miserable. I trace this to several factors: ultimately taking the first job offered without feeling I had a choice; relying heavily on responding to posted job openings in my job search which is a way to maximize misery and a sense of desperation; and (this is related to the first two) not having a firm focus on what I want. Of course I do have some money to fall back on. I forgot to mention that I am 61? Age discrimination is everywhere….

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