Job hunting tips for the long-term unemployed

Caroline Cassidy

The job market has been looking increasingly gloomy for some years now and recent figures suggest there could soon be three million unemployed in the UK.

job hunting advice
job hunting advice

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If you have been out of work for some time, you may be beginning to lose hope. There still jobs out there, however, so to give yourself the best chance of re-entering the workforce, follow these helpful tips.

Be productive.
When you have been unemployed for a long time, it's all too easy to slip into a jogging bottom and daytime TV routine. Don't. Being productive between jobs will show employers that you are keen, motivated and focused, and you will also benefit from getting out and maintaining a sense of self worth.

Keep revamping and improving your CV, sign up for a course to expand your skill set or learn something entirely new, create a website or blog, or volunteer, either with a charity or within a friend's business. Potential employers will often ask about career gaps - show them that you have maintained a good work ethic and are keen to learn and adapt, and you'll stand a better chance of landing a job.

Get networking
Networking is vital if you are to revitalise your career so getting out and being seen should always be on your to-do list. Check to see where job conferences, seminars or other relevant business-related events are happening near you and go. Always dress smartly and carry business cards - you never know who you might bump into.

Of course, the rise and rise of social networking means you can do a spot of carefully planned networking from the comfort of your own home. Get busy on LinkedIn, where you can find and develop contacts within your industry. Following, either on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, will keep you up-to-date with what's going on in the industry and increase your chances of seeing vacancies before they hit the masses.

Be positive
It's possibly the toughest part of being unemployed, particularly if you have been made redundant and received endless rejection letters, but staying positive is a must - future employers will not look kindly on a negative attitude.

With any luck you've been keeping busy, giving you a sense of self worth, and this will help you to answer those tough interview questions. Potential employers will almost certainly ask about any employment breaks. Explain to them how you have benefitted from gaining a qualification or volunteering, and try to show how their company could also take advantage of your new-found skills.

Similarly, when asked why you left your previous employer, keep it short and to the point, merely stating the fact that the economic climate forced the firm to reduce the workforce.

For those who have been unemployed for a very long time, you may have come to the point where you have lowered your career sights. Employers often tender the tricky question of whether you are overqualified for the position. Again, point out the skills that will prove invaluable to the company and be enthusiastic about the firm and what you can bring to the table.

Escape the doom and gloom
In these tough economic times, it's all too easy to slip into a negative frame of mind, and job hunting can prove tough on your self-esteem. Therefore it's important to take some time to enjoy life too - spend a day with the family, take a walk in the country or get some exercise. Time away from the job-hunting process can help you to relax and keep a hold on that all-important positivity.

Have you experienced long-term unemployment? What's your top tip for job hunters? Leave your comments below...