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It is not a secret that the longer you’re unemployed, the more difficult it becomes for your job hunting. A big part of the reason is employers’ perceptions — and misconceptions — of the long-term unemployed.
That is why it is important to be fully aware of these issues to be able to address them. But that is not everything. Many other factors can contribute to why you’re not getting a job back.
If you’ve been having trouble making a comeback to the job market, consider how you — and your resume — fare on the following aspects:
Did you end your last job in 2010? Did you take an irrelevant job during your long wait for a logical step in your career path? If the top of your CV features such an irrelevant experience or many years of unemployment, you may be losing the competition before you even begin.
Everyone knows that hiring managers scan resumes quickly for initial screening; your irrelevant experience — despite being short — may be putting them off. Similarly, a long break may be working against you. To work around that, consider different resume formats where the emphasis is placed on your relevant experience that applies to the job you’re seeking.
If employers are concerned about your long unemployment period, it is important to reassure them that there isn’t a big problem with you — a personality or character problem that discourages employers from hiring you. In short, you should allay their fears that you’re unemployable.
To do so, avoid bad mouthing past employers as well as employers with whom you’ve interviewed, but didn’t get a job. This is advisable any way, but particularly important in this situation.
Similarly, make sure you’re prepared to answer why you’ve not been able to get a job for so long. Although all answers should be right as long as they are honest, your way and tone of presenting the reason can make all the difference in coming across as a viable candidate struggling to find a job because of personal criteria and a tough job market, and not someone who’s a desperate, bitter person unable to get over the woes of unemployment.
This is another major concern employers may have about someone who has been out of the job market and the office environment for an extended period. Being disconnected doesn’t only apply to the technical experience, but it is also a concern about your ability to reintegrate in a professional environment successfully.
The good news is that is one of the concerns can be easily overcome if you make it to a personal interview. To get there, remember you need to first ensure that your initial communication — written and verbal — is as professional as it gets. Employers read between the lines and listen for signs of confidence and professional attitude, so make sure that your application and your phone screening interview, if any, reflect the character and personality that you’d present in an office environment.
In addition, don’t overlook the concerns about your technical background, especially if you’ve been out of the job market for years. In your cover letter and interviews, emphasise how you’ve kept up with your industry and try to include evidence such as volunteer work, attendance of industry events, etc.
It is not unlikely, however, that the reasons that kept you unemployed (dependent care, for example) have been in your way of catching up with changes. In this case, you must be prepared with a roadmap that explains how you plan to catch up.
Employers do expect a learning curve anyway and your preparedness probably will be appreciated, if you’re shortlisted.
Your relevant experience didn’t vanish simply because of the months — or years — you spent unemployed. But like anything that has been shelved for long, you may need to dust it off and be ready to resume where you left off.
To do so, and for your own sake, get yourself up to date with the current job requirements — even if that just requires what appears to be minor issues that are not core job tasks.
For example, with the advent of technology, do companies still do a certain task manually? Do they use new software? Are they interested in incorporating social media in your job?
If the answer is “yes,” don’t overlook these matters. Although they may seem insignificant to you, they may help another candidate win the job. So while you’re in the process of job hunting, check out what’s new and master it.
Source: Rania Oteify, Special to gulfnews.com
The writer , a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor