Tips for Thriving in Long-Term Unemployment

by Xin Lu on 2 January 2012 1 comment
Photo: george ruiz

The sagging economy forced many people from their jobs and left the young and old alike searching for income. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8.6% of the U.S. labor force is unemployed, as of November 2011, and the unemployment rate in the U.S. has remained in the 8-10% range since February 2009. Additionally, millions of the long-term unemployed have fallen off the official unemployment rolls, and these folks are labeled as "discouraged workers." Here are some tips to making your long-term unemployment an opportunity for advancement. (See also: Help! I Lost My Job!)

Use All of Your Resources

There are many new and innovative job resources available to help you find a job and put some food on your table. Many community colleges and community centers host career fairs to allow members of the community to meet prospective employers, so be sure to check your local listings for career fairs in your area. If you went to college, you still may be eligible for career guidance from your school. Consider contacting a career counselor at your alma mater or checking your school’s career advising websites for job postings in your field. Otherwise, social media has turned many websites into personal job boards. Check for job postings on sites like Mashable, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Some of these sites have separate areas for job postings, but your friends may also post an opportunity in your newsfeed.

Build Your Resume While Unemployed

It sounds horrible if you tell a prospective employer that you’ve been doing nothing but searching for a job for the past three years because you were unemployed. Instead, find something to productively occupy your time. Volunteering is a great way to gain job experience to put on your resume and show potential employers that you’re a productive go-getter. Most businesses, political campaigns, organizations, hospitals, and religious groups love having extra hands to assist with free labor. Look for opportunities in your field or in a field you’re passionate about, and see if a business or organization in that field will let you help out for a few hours a week. You’ll pick up some job skills and experience, and you can add the extra line to your resume to show that you were not sitting on your butt while the unemployment rate was high. With the 2012 elections coming up, there are many opportunities to volunteer for your favorite candidates.

Learn New Things

Look for training classes in your area that you are interested in. It is possible to start a completely different career than what you had before. I have heard of laid off police officers who became barbers and laid off engineers who went back to school and became dentists. It really depends on your interests and motivations. You could also just go to the library, borrow books, and learn skills. You could even read about how to improve your interview skills.

Supplement Your Income With Odd Jobs

Babysitting and mowing lawns may sound like jobs for teenagers, but young people do them because they provide quick, easy, and tax-free money. Do your kids’ friends always need rides to school or after-school activities? Consider forming a chauffeur service for kids in your neighborhood. Also, there are multiple, legitimate opportunities to make money online. From taking surveys to writing blog posts, there are virtual odd jobs that can fit anyone’s interest and skill level.

Work on Your Own Business

I have talked about having your own side income before, and if you are unemployed it is actually a great time to work on a side business. You have more time to try out different ideas that you had and perhaps bring your business to the next level. Sometimes being unemployed lights a fire under people's butts and successful businesses are born. The key is to use your energy and time in a productive manner.

The job market may be dismal, but there are still so many opportunities for financial gain, no matter how big or small. Be creative, be enterprising, and find your opportunities. Remember that every dollar helps, and every work opportunity may open a new door for you. Use your unemployment as an opportunity for advancement and don't be a "discouraged worker." 

What are your experiences? Have you been unemployed for more than a year?

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In today's economy I think developing a side income such as blogging or internet marketing is very important to our survival. Gone are the days when part-time jobs were easy to pick up.