Tips for Finding a Job When You've Been Unemployed


“I have been out of work for more than six months and have had no luck finding a job.  I am not even having any success in getting an interview.  What do I need to do to get noticed?” — Frank, from the Greater Cleveland area.


Frank, I feel your frustration.  Please know that you are not alone in experiencing frustration and confusion as to why the job search is taking so long.  Many folks who have been out of work of for more than six months encounter the same difficulties getting hired that you are.  The good news is that there are steps you can take to jump start your search.
What does your résumé say?
Recent studies have clearly shown that businesses routinely screen out applicants who have been out of work for more than six months.  The primary reason is that there are still many applicants for the positions you are applying for who are employed or have been out of work for a shorter period.  Your résumé or the way you complete online application forms may be a barrier. Review your résumé to make sure you do not have dates of employment upfront that reinforce that you have been out of work for a long time.

  • Reformat the document to list your skills and abilities first.  Employers want to know what you offer them.  This is your chance to give an introduction of who you are without starting with your period of employment.
  • In the experience section, put your most current experiences first. You can list your community service activities, volunteer positions or trainings completed.   This will explain what you are doing currently and shows the prospective employer that you are active and engaged.
  • If you are completing online applications, list any current relevant experiences first to reduce the chance that your application is screened out for long-term unemployment.  You want to have your application reviewed, but that can only happen if it gets to the human resources department.

Build relevant experience to show on your résumé

  • According to a survey of hiring managers, taking a class or going back to school is a great start. This can be as simple as taking a certification course (e.g., IT  or software training), attending professional seminars or enrolling in community college courses. If the subject matter expands your skill set or can be applied in the next job, that’s information that should be featured prominently on your résumé or in your cover letter.
  • Volunteering increases your marketability. Volunteerism is a testament to a person’s character and work ethic. However, many job seekers are not doing the best job of promoting that experience when they apply for work. It can’t be an isolated bullet point buried on the page. Whenever possible choose volunteer work that can be can part of your work experience and career plans.
  • Consider a temporary or contract assignment. Temp or contract work is not just for entry-level workers and young professionals. Opportunities are available across job types, experience levels, and salary ranges.

Follow up on your application
To help make sure your resume is noticed, always follow up directly with the employer after you have submitted a résumé or an application.   Another important part of your job search is networking.  Be sure to check out our blogs on networking and using social media to aid your job search.
Good luck,