Tag Archives: LTU

The plight of the long-term unemployed; how to overcome it: part 2

In part one of this article, we looked at the plight of the long-term unemployed (LTU). Part two will look at five solutions for the LTU for finding work.

unemployed

Find a support system

Isolation is a symptom of long-term unemployment which is hard to overcome. One of the people who contributed to this article, Doug, described the support he received from family and friends, some friends he developed during his job search:

I am fortunate in that way. I also have a strong base of family and friends that kept me motivated. Many of these friends I never knew until I got laid off. I met them through job clubs and networking groups and consider myself lucky to have found them. They truly understood what I was going through.”

Ofer Sharone, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, created a program at MIT, which matches volunteer coaches with the LTU to provide them support and advice. One of the many benefits the members of the group receive is being with other LTU who are in the same situation.

Bob, interviewed by Sharone, stated, “When you’re let go, you get discouraged, frustrated, disappointed, feel like a failure,” but Bob explained that the support he received helped him recognize “the positive things that I’ve done in my career and has helped me see that focus, keeping me aligned with what I can offer an organization, rather than what it was that I wasn’t able to offer.”

Network

Most people understand the importance of networking, but many people are reluctant, if not terrified of doing it. For the LTU, networking outlets can lose their appeal, as the forums are attended by the same people. I’ve attended networking events as a visitor or presenter, where I’ve seen people who seem to have been there a year ago. This is not due to a lack of effort on their part. They may have been victims of the LTU stigma.

The quickest way to earn a job is by being referred to a position by someone who is known and trusted by the employer. This is easier said than done; and for someone who has been out of work for more than 27 weeks, finding people to refer them can be a tall order. It is, therefore, essential that the LTU are able to promote themselves to people who are in a position to recommend them.

David never gave up on networking the two years he was out of work. “My landing was through networking,” he said. “Someone knew someone looking for my skill set – more importantly, that someone specifically recommended me. That built up, eventually, to a full-time position that, alas, was a finite one.”

Create a powerful résumé and LinkedIn profile

While the aforementioned solutions are important, a well-crafted résumé and LinkedIn profile are paramount to avoiding the “black hole” syndrome. Foremost a résumé needs to be tailored to each position for which one applies.

Secondly, the résumé and LinkedIn profile have to express one’s value through measurable accomplishments. All too many LTU insist on listing duty statements that lack quantified results. They’re very proud of what they’ve done, but neglect to demonstrate how well they’ve performed their duties.

It’s important that the older (50 and over) LTU do not exceed 15 years of work experience on their resume for the mere fact that it ages them. The goal of the resume is to get them to the interview. Once there, they can sell the benefits they offer as older workers.

Lastly, the résumé must get past applicant tracking systems (ATS), which approximately 98% of large-sized companies are using, more than 60% of mid-sized companies employ, and some small companies are outsourcing.

Having a strong LinkedIn campaign is also a key requirement for the LTU. Some sources state that between 87-94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent. Further, Approximately 40% of employers will immediately reject candidates if they don’t have a LinkedIn presence.

Perform well in interviews

As stated earlier, there is a bias against the long-term unemployed. Interviewers might be wondering why one has been out of work for six months. What’s wrong with them? Sharone acknowledges that in an interview this bias exists:

“We have age discrimination laws that reflect our belief that it is not okay for an employer to assume that just because you are 50-years-old, you’re not qualified or skilled anymore. I think the same thinking should drive policies that say we don’t think it’s a good idea for employers to make an assumption that just because you’ve been unemployed for six months, you’re not good or skilled.”

In all likelihood the LTU will be asked why they’ve been out of work for so long—many of my clients are asked this. A successful response to this question will rely on their honesty and conviction in their ability to succeed in the role they’ll be assuming. One of my clients, who had been out of work for more than two years, decided that saying she had retired was the best route to go.

Read this compilation of the stages of a successful interview.

Volunteer

As difficult as it may be to work for free, volunteering can be the best way to land a job. The reasons are simple: LTU are in a better place to network, they develop new skills, and it’s great fodder for their résumé.

What’s important when volunteering is to choose the right situation. Sure, volunteering at an animal shelter is great for the soul, but it isn’t the best place for a software engineer. A software engineer would be better off volunteering at an organization—most likely a nonprofit—where she can use and sharpen the skills she has. The best case scenario is finding a gig where one can learn new skills.

Treat yourself well

The final suggestion I have for the LTU is taking a break. Whereas some might think putting their job search in overdrive is the way to success, taking their foot of the gas pedal every once in awhile will help them maintain their sanity. My contributor, Doug, told me once when I asked how his week had gone that he took it off. My initial thought was, “The whole week?”

But it dawned on me that it was a good move on his part. The LTU can not underestimate the importance of physical and emotional wellness. Perhaps they should look at the job search more like a marathon than sprint. In the end, Doug landed a job. When it comes down to it, that’s the endgame.

This post originally appeared in Jobscan.co.

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The plight of the long-term unemployed; how to overcome it: part 1

Most of the people I know have been unemployed at one point in their life. There’s a sense of despair that comes with losing one’s source of income. Perhaps more devastating is the emotional turmoil that comes with unemployment, which can include a combination of feelings, such as sadness, anger, self-doubt, fear, isolation, hopelessness, even depression.

unemployed

A special category of unemployment identifies people who’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or more. They’re referred to as long-term unemployed (LTU). The LTU experience the aforementioned symptoms at a more heightened level. I know this, because many of my clients are at this stage, some for a year or more.

According to the latest Labor of Bureau of Statistics (LBS) report, the unemployment rate in October, 2018, for individuals out of work 15-26 weeks was 14 percent of all people out of work. For individuals unemployed 27 weeks and more it was almost doubled at 22.5 percent.

But this doesn’t tell the whole story. The “real unemployment rate” or U-6 is a more accurate assessment of people who are out of work. It says that if the employment rate is 4%, for instance, the accurate amount of people out of work is more than double that. People who are no longer receiving unemployment benefits are counted among the U-6 rate, among others.

Struggles of the long-term unemployed

Ofer Sharone is a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research focuses on career transitions, work and unemployment. He is also the founder of the Institute of Career Transition (ICT) at the Sloan School of Management, MIT, which focuses on helping individuals traverse the road of long-term unemployment.

Sharone conducted interviews of the LTU. Following are the concerns of the people Sharone interviewed.

One person Sharone interviewed, Arnold, described the job search as a black hole, where he would send his applications to employers and never hear from them. This is not uncommon with the LTU who want to hear something from employers, even if it’s a rejection.

Sharone explains, “This void leaves it up to job seekers to interpret the reasons for their labor market difficulties, which frequently results in highly individualized accounts.”

Deborah talked about the loss of identity: “. . . This is a fairly major yardstick that we all put against ourselves, our employment. We define ourselves partly by what we do. Right now I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me in terms of how I identify myself…”

Most people who lose their job feel embarrassed, humiliated, and ashamed as Ruth, stated: “I don’t want to contact people, my friends. I’m embarrassed. I’m humiliated. I feel like a loser. And I don’t want to call anyone, I just don’t want to talk to anybody.”

In writing this post, I reached out to six people, asking them to describe their experience of being unemployed for longer than a year. Two people responded. I imagined the other four people didn’t respond because they didn’t want to relive their experience, not because they didn’t have the time.

One person who contributed, Doug, expressed: “I get my strength and rejuvenation from helping others. During this period [of unemployment], I was the one that needed help and support.  It was new to me and hard to accept. I would be lying if I said I never got down or discouraged. You don’t necessarily want a ‘pity party,’ but sometimes you just want to be left alone to let your thoughts and emotions marinate.”

Another person, David, wrote: If I can capture my feelings in simple words they would be despair, desperation, and disbelief. Despair at having to draw down savings and even my 401K to survive. Desperation at watching my retirement vanish. And disbelief that a skilled person with years of experience and strong accomplishments was passed over time and again.”

Many believe there is a correlation between age and long-term unemployment. David wrote: “I suspect ageism played a role, as did the bias many hiring managers have for people who are out of work. Despite the deep crash starting in 2007, too many employers still believe that if you have no job, especially if you’ve not had one for a while, there must be something wrong with you.” I believe David is correct on all counts.


Next read about solutions on how to overcome long-term unemployment.

This post originally appeared on Jobscan’s blog.