Our economy has not been the greatest over the past 10-plus years. For this reason, many workers have experienced layoffs and unemployment, some for an extended period of time. In fact, if you’ve been unemployed for six months or longer, you’re in good company — this is true for about 40 percent of unemployed people in the U.S. But, it’s important to remember that in your career, it’s not the falling down but the staying down that employers care about. In other words, simply because you’re unemployed, this doesn’t mean companies can’t benefit from your skills and abilities — it simply means you haven’t connected with the right employer yet. The single most important thing you can do to weather long-term unemployment is to ensure that you don’t begin to suffer from skill erosion. Here’s what you can do.

How to keep your skills sharp during a period of unemployment

Since the recession, hiring managers are more understanding of unemployment than they’ve been in the past. But you can still take steps to put a positive spin on your time spent without a job. Consider the following:

  • Return to school or take a class. If you’ve been laid off, this is a great opportunity to build on your skills or knowledge. You could take a certification course, attend professional seminars or enroll in classes at a local college. You may even decide to change your career path and return to school for a completely new degree. You have the advantage of plenty of free time: many people who attempt to take classes or enhance their degree must do so while juggling work, family responsibilities, etc., and this can be difficult.
  • Stay in the loop. It’s important to keep yourself current on what’s going on in your industry. You should continue to read trade journals, visit key industry websites, keep up with current research studies, etc.
  • Employers look favorably on charity work because it showcases your strength of character and work ethic. Your best choice is volunteering for a cause or organization that allows you to apply your current knowledge and skills. This will allow you to work somewhat within your profession as part of your volunteer assignment, and you can spin it as such to a potential employer.
  • You can learn about what’s happening in your industry and be in-the-know for any job openings by attending networking events and keeping up with your colleagues. You can also reach out to others in your industry through social media.
  • Work with a recruiter. Why not increase your chances of finding your next job by partnering with a staffing agency? Your recruiter will function as your job coach, helping you to sharpen your interview skills and polish your resume. Also, they have contacts within your industry and information about open jobs that may not be advertised to the public. When you work with a recruiter, you may want to try a temporary or contract position to keep your skills sharp until your perfect full-time opportunity opens up.

Keep your chin up

Your own commitment to your future is an important tool in finding your next job. Stay confident in your abilities and you will project an air of success to hiring managers and potential employers. Continue to “walk the walk” and you’ll be that much closer to your next full-time position.

Find an exciting new job

McGrath Systems will work with you throughout the hiring process — to land that new job you’re seeking. We place candidates with positions in the fields of engineering, IT, Web development, marketing, clerical and more, with a special focus on licensed insurance agents. To learn more about what McGrath Systems can do for your job search, contact us today.


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