Getting a job today is hard enough. Getting one with months-long gaps in your resume is even harder, especially with more and more employers excluding unemployed workers.The National Employment Law Project calls it “a perverse catch-22”: requiring workers to have jobs in order to get jobs.
But you shouldn’t lose hope.
“Good hiring managers understand that the economy is terrible, and that it’s been particularly hard for recent grads,” hiring manager Alison Green told us. “You want to be able to talk about what you’ve been doing with that time.”
'You don't want to come up blank when they ask what you've been doing in recent months,' says hiring manager Alison Green, writer of Ask a Manager.
'Even if you've been spending most of your time sitting on the couch watching Law & Order.'
'Talk about what you've been doing with that time -- volunteering, taking a class, caring for a family member, or improving your skills in some way,' says Green.
Some states even offer free job training courses.
'Go on Craigslist and find volunteering opportunities,' says career coach Win Sheffield. 'You don't have to put them on your resume, but you'll have something to say during the interview.'
'If you can convince someone that you can help them solve their problem then your job is done,' says Jeff Neil, a career coach in New York City.
'The good news is that the better you get at talking like that, the more you will actually believe your story, the story that being unemployed is lucky because you have learning opportunities,' Trunk says.
Neil says that people who haven't been able to find a job in a couple of months, most likely don't have a good resume or good job searching skills.
A strong resume won't guarantee you a job, but it will open the door for an interview.
How to explain the jobless gap in your resume?
You can say: 'Nothing has felt like the right place or the right opportunity for me,' Neil says, or 'I want to be employed in a place where I can bring value.'
'I scheduled breakfasts, lunches, coffees and happy hours with anyone that was willing to give up time and speak to me,' says Megan Fischer, who started a blog called 'Unemployed in Milwaukee' after being laid off --she now has a job.
Fischer recommends starting a farmer's list: one that you must complete every day no matter what.
Almost half of employers are using social networks to screen job candidates. Keep your LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media accounts active with information that employers can appreciate.
Career coach Jeff Neils also recommends staying active in blogs related to your field of work, or going to professional association meetings.
After Ellen Winsett had sent out hundreds of job applications, she heard of a six-month opportunity at a gas company.
'After doing a lot of thinking I finally decided that any job is a job, even if it was only for 6 months, so I applied,' she told Slate.
Since, the company has extended her employment twice, and now she is up for a permanent position.
'The first time I was laid off I panicked and immediately searched for a job, which I found two months later,' Valeri Davies told USA Today.
Davies, who had majored in international relations and the Middle East but was doing something completely unrelated, realised soon after that it wasn't what she wanted to do.
'Now I'm taking the next two months and focusing on what I really want to do.'
'Then put the list away,' advice Paula Forman and Jeff Johnson.
'The point is to own the experience - not be a victim of it. 'I got fired because my boss was a jerk...' doesn't cut it.'
The idea is to assume responsibility for what happened --even if your boss was a jerk, so you can take responsibility for what's going to happen next.
A 2010 survey of U.K. companies showed that companies ranked fluency in a second language as second only to information technology when it comes to finding the right candidate, according to BBC
Prime Sarmiento says learning a foreign language 'propelled my career as a foreign correspondent and helped me set up a business as a content marketing strategist.'.
'Although this may not seem like the right time to spend money on leisure activities - it is,' say Forman and Johnson. 'You have the time.'
Use the break to reassess your career choices and read books related to your field. It will give you the second wind you need to get back to your job search.
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