Ask Dana: 2 Recommendations for the Long-term Unemployed

Long term unemployed



How do I keep energy going in my job search when I’ve been unemployed a long time?


Advice from Dana:

Unfortunately, the number of long-term unemployed is growing. Even more regrettable is that employers and recruiters stereotype job seekers who have been out of work for a while.

Subconsciously, they can’t help but assume that something is wrong with the candidate or that they are not as desirable as other candidates. These are generalities, of course, with plenty of exceptions on all ends of the spectrum.

Here are two ways to level the playing field and, while also making yourself feel better.

1. Change your definition of “ work” and fill in your gap now

Volunteering, particularly in a way that is connected to your career goal, can be listed as a type of employment in your résumé. Not under “other activities” or “volunteering” but as a real position. Seek positions where you can volunteer in the main office of a non-profit and consult in your area of expertise. For example: Are you a marketing person who can help promote the next major fund-raiser? Are you a technology expert who can build a website?

If you have been volunteering, then change your perception of how valuable that work is and talk about it like a job. Draw out the skills and experiences and learn as much as you can. Join Toastmasters? Earn a professional certification? Anything relevant and professional should be included.

2. Perform as the long-term employed

Maintain your grooming, read about interview success, and prepare to perform! Here’s a secret: Even the employed are blowing it in interviews. Good news is that you are on a level playing field and YOU have the time to prepare to win a job as a result of great interviewing prowess. Some keys:

  • Maintain a nice haircut and facial grooming.
  • Have your nails nicely groomed.
  • Show good posture.
  • Give a strong handshake.
  • Carry a portfolio with paper and pen (to take notes!), copies of your résumé, and a copy of the job description.
  • Prepare your answers to the most commonly-asked interview questions.
  • Prepare the questions you will ask them!


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