Feb. 19, 2014 — Long-term unemployed workers are in need of some short-term strategies on how to re-energize their job searches and make a breakthrough, according to OI Partners, a leading global coaching and leadership development and consulting firm.
“Those out of work for awhile can use some strategies that could help make a quick impact, as well as longer-term plans. Their first emphasis should be on ‘getting back in the game’ – becoming re-employed as soon as they can and then using that as a springboard,” said Patty Prosser, chair of OI Partners.
There were 3.6 million people in January who were counted as long-term unemployed, or out of work for 27 or more weeks, comprising 35.8% of the unemployed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Those numbers do not include 2.6 million people who were classified as “marginally attached to the labor force” because they had not looked for a job in the 4 weeks preceding the government’s survey. However, they had searched for work sometime in the previous 12 months.
OI Partners offers these strategies that can help the long-term unemployed make a job-search breakthrough.
- Hang out a shingle: “Starting your own freelance practice or consulting firm or becoming a contract worker is an increasingly effective way to become re-employed. This may have particular appeal to people over 50 where seasoning is usually not considered an impediment. Put this work on your resume after successfully completing a few assignments where you can get referrals from satisfied clients and customers,” added Prosser.
- Use a friend’s empty room as business office: “If you have a friend who runs his or her own business, ask if you can use an empty room as an office. Your local Chamber of Commerce may have some rooms available that you can reserve or a non-profit organization may give you an office in exchange for donating your services,” said Prosser.
- Consulting: Try consulting in a field in which you have experience. You can consult for a fee or just a solid recommendation. Consulting fills a void on the resume and gives you something to talk about in an interview. It also shows that someone else wants your services.
- Accept bridge assignments: “Take a short-term assignment you can put on your resume as a bridge. Think of your career plan as several small steps forward, rather than one giant leap. A short term bridge position may be the best option to ending a long term period of unemployment. Don’t pass up short-term ‘less than ideal’ opportunities while waiting it out for the perfect job. It may take several bridge positions to get to where you ultimately want to go,” Prosser added.
- Acquire a certificate in training: Get training in new skills under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), a federal program that provides funds to pay for training programs that are WIA-certified. The certificate you receive will certify that your training meets certain performance standards. Such training also includes registered apprenticeship programs.
- Take an assessment or aptitude test: People sometimes pigeonhole themselves into one career path and are not aware they have skills that are transferable to other job roles and industries.
- Focus on education: Some employers interpret long term unemployment as a lack of ambition. Showing you are pursuing a degree or taking classes indicates you have drive and are expanding your knowledge.
- Change the way you interview: Focus on the multiple ways companies are hiring, including contract and part time positions, instead of only on the one job for which you are interviewing. Also, be more specific about how your experience can help a potential employer solve problems. Adopt a proactive “what I can do for your company” style of interviewing, rather than only talking about what you did in your past jobs.
- Relocate: Relocate to a more “employable” area where there is lower unemployment and greater job opportunity. Being there can help relieve a potential employer’s reluctance to relocating you that might be standing in the way.
- Volunteer: Volunteer your talents with a visible not for profit agency where, in addition to performing a service to your community, you can make new networking contacts. Also check out websites that align people with charitable agencies in their areas that could not otherwise afford their services.