If you've experienced a long stretch of unemployment, you're not alone.
Millions of Americans have found themselves laid off in the last few years as companies have cut costs by cutting jobs. If you've found yourself unemployed, you're also probably aware that finding a new job is the hardest job you'll ever have to do. Here are a few tips for finding your way back into the workforce, no matter how long you've been unemployed.
Have an alibi for time spent out of work
You may have heard that it's easier to get a job when you have a job. HR professionals and hiring managers tend to question why a good employee has been out of work, particularly for a long stretch of time. Rather than simply say you've been unemployed, you can help your chances at getting the next job by filling in the blanks in your employment history. Depending on your line of work, you can say you've been self-employed as a consultant — and advertise your services too — or start your own small business. Volunteering helps too, not only to give you an appreciation for what you have, but also to show your reliability when you list your ongoing volunteer service on your résumé.
Keep your hopes up
Thinking you'll never find a job is a self-fulfilling prophecy — you give up and then you stop looking, and then you remain out of work indefinitely. If you're getting fed up with sending out résumés without getting replies, contact some people you know will reply. Friends, family, and former colleagues are your best chances for finding your next job, and even those who can't immediately help you can give you new leads and forward your name along to their friends, family, and former colleagues. If you aren't sure how to start contacting people, read my article on Networking with Friends.
Improve your skills
Rather than keep looking for the job you're perfect for, make yourself perfect for the job you want. You can learn most computer programs for free online, and Goodwill offers different kinds of workforce training all over the country. Remember to focus on gaining the skills and qualifications the job descriptions actually mention. If no one is asking for a particular certificate, any amount of time or money spent getting that certificate will be a waste.
Remember: You only have to get one job offer to become employed, and you will get it. As soon as you secure one job — even if it isn't your dream job — finding your next job will be easier. If you have specific employment questions or want advice on the next step to getting your next job, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carissa Doshi is a business writer and the president of Gen Y Media Group. She gives career advice and blogs about her experiences on www.carissadoshi.com. You can also follow @CarissaDoshi on Twitter.