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Job-hunting tips for long-term unemployed

Updated: November 5, 2011 2:29PM

To improve the prospects of the long-term unemployed landing work, here’s advice from Challenger, Gray and Christmas, the National Employment Law Project and the Illinois Department of Employment Security:

†Do volunteer work, part-time work, paid consulting or contract work and include that in your resume to help fill in the gaps. It will also help to expand your job search network.

*Don’t opt not to pursue a job you’re interested in just because an ad says only presently employed candidates or short-term unemployed candidates will be considered. Contact the headhunter or employment agency and submit a cover letter that explains why you’re unemployed and make the case for why you’re very interested in and qualified for the position. Be persistent in trying to get your hat in the ring.

*Turn what might be perceived as a negative into a positive. Express to potential employers the fact that you’ve been unemployed for such a length of time gives you a perspective that many others don’t have — you truly know how meaningful that job will be and will work harder than anybody else they’d find.

*Take advantage of services available through the Illinois Department of Employment Security, including help determining what skills you have that may be transferable to other jobs in growth industries or what new skills you may need. Visit

*If losing skills is a legitimate concern, find ways to maintain, upgrade or expand your skills and include that in your resume.

*If there are extenuating circumstances surrounding the length of time you’ve been out of work, such as your job was cut and you decided to take a year off from the job search to be a caregiver for an ill family member, share that with potential employers. Let them know the time off ended up being a blessing, but now you’re ready to get back into the job market.

*Long-term unemployment can be an emotional roller coaster, so find ways to keep your confidence up. Don’t isolate yourself. Continue your normal daily routines and maintain contact with family and friends. Continue doing the things that you can afford to do that give you satisfaction and pleasure.

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