If You’ve Been Unemployed for Too Long


If You’ve Been Unemployed for Too Long

There are many reasons for being out of the workforce. Being fired or being a part of a company’s efforts to downsize are just two reasons to be tossed into a job hunt. Caring for families or being a stay-at-home parent are some other reasons you could be out of the professional game.


Sometimes these things are unpreventable, but whatever the reason one thing is true: If you have been out of the workforce for more than a year, this can be a red flag to the recruiters reviewing your resume.


There are, however, ways of making the gap time work for you. Follow these tips to succeed during your job search if you’ve been out of work for a long period of time


Find Positives During Your Gap Time

If there is a long span of time between your last job and your next one, it doesn’t have to be the death knell that causes your resume to hit the scrap heap on the recruiter’s desk.


If you have used your time wisely to learn or hone a craft, you can add this to your resume to camouflage the time that you have been unemployed. This doesn’t mean you need to lie.


Never leave gaping holes in your employment history. Instead, if you have been out of the workforce and have been productive, you can list the things you have been doing while unemployed on your resume. Self-employment or hobby work that has transferrable skills can be listed on your resume.


Spending time as a volunteer can also be listed on your resume. Although the volunteer work doesn’t provide you with a paycheck, it provides you with valuable experience that can be added to your resume.


If you have been a stay-at-home parent, you have been practicing household management skills. These skills can be added to your resume as well. It’s a safe bet that you haven’t been a total couch potato while between jobs. Describe the use of your skills on the homefront and present your time out of the workforce in a positive light.


Explain Why You Left Your Last Job

For each job that you have left and moved on to another one, be sure to list the reasons why you changed jobs.

It is much easier to land a new job while employed, but if you quit before you found the perfect new job, it is okay to mention that you needed a sabbatical to spend the year with your family or to travel. Leaving a job because you chose to leave is understandable if there is a purpose for the gap in employment.


Otherwise, it appears that you had a problem and were forced out. If that’s the case, be careful with your phrasing. Don’t say things like “I was canned” or “They laid me off.” Use softer language, like “They were downsizing staff.”


Talk About Professional Advancement

If you have always wanted to be your own boss and you took time off to try self-employment, this gap year doesn’t count as a gap because you were working. List yourself as your own employer. If you were hired to work as a contractor or as a consultant, this shows initiative in your career field.


If you have worked for the same company for an extended period of time, you should list all of your career promotions that you have received. This will show a clear picture of your work history within the company. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile reflects all of your career advancement.  


Be Honest

Honesty is the best way to get recruiters to give you the nod and look more closely at your resume. When you are applying through jobs found on a job search, your honesty will be a beacon that attracts recruiters’ attention.  


Avoid resume padding because it is unethical. Resume padding includes exaggerating past job titles and types of degrees that have been earned.  Being hired based on your own credentials and merit is rewarding.


Reevaluate Your Process

You should always be improving the way you search for a new job. Reevaluate your previous methods and seek to improve them.

If you’ve been using national job sites only, check out some job resources focused in your area or industry-specific sites. If you haven’t been getting a lot of traction with your resume, change it up.


It’s really all trial and error. Keep changing and try to make your process better every time you apply to a new job.


Don’t Give Up

Being out of the workforce for a long time can cause recruiters to overlook you, but if you are able to present yourself confidently, you can gain the opportunity to interview.


The gaps in your resume can seem daunting when you are trying to get hired, but you can make your time out of the workforce work for you when you are trying to land a new job. If you put these tips into play, you should be able to land the job you want.



Susan Ranford is an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for New York Jobs. In her blogging and writing, she seeks to shed light on issues related to employment, business, and finance to help others understand different industries and find the right job fit for them.

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