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Mar 01

How to overcome long-term unemployment

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Being a victim of long term unemployment can make you lose confidence in yourself. The longer your unemployment continues the harder it seems to be to break out of. As the gap on your CV between jobs widens, it can make us even more desperate to find work.

If you’re stuck in a job-seeking rut, then we may have some helpful advice below.

Government schemes

Long-term unemployment is a huge, national problem and you’re definitely not alone. The good news is there is a number of schemes in place that you may be able to benefit from. Each has different qualification criteria, so for more information on employment issues, Directgov has further advice.

But until then here’s list of useful schemes:

  • The Work Programme – This is a ‘welfare-to-work’ programme. Aimed at employers, it provides incentives to encourage them to employ job seekers through a series of payments. With further rewards if they employ a registered job seeker. There are bigger payments for those who need the most help finding a job. This includes those who’ve been job hunting for a long time.
  • New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) –  This scheme has been set up to help unemployed people set up their own businesses. There are Enterprise Clubs available to where you can research and discuss your business idea, and help make it into a viable business pitch. If the proposal is approved, the scheme will continue to dispatch benefit payments for six months. It will also provide an additional start-up loan and access to mentoring support.

Prevent gaps in your CV

Come interview time, you’ll always be asked what you’re doing now, or what you’ve been doing since your last job. Remember “nothing” isn’t an acceptable answer. Although searching for jobs is a time consuming process, try to fit in some CV boosting activities around it. Employers are going to want to see you’ve used your unemployment in constructive ways.

Consider some of these:

  • Voluntary work – Volunteering is a good way to show your willingness to work. It helps you gain experience in your chosen sector and gives you something to talk about at an interview. Even just a couple of hours here and there will help. Directgov has information on volunteering while looking for work.
  • Blogging – It’s free, it’ll help improve your all important IT skills. It’ll also give you a creative outlet and a break from sending job applications. You can write about a hobby or your take on culture and events. It also shows you have been using your time productively, and you never know which potential employers might be impressed when they read it. Easy sites to start off with are WordPress and Blogger.
  • Hobbies – Be it photography, baking, running or stamp collecting, being unemployed is a great opportunity to start something new. Having a hobby to add to your CV and talk about at an interview shows prospective employers that you have a well-rounded personality.
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The old cliché still applies; it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. So, it only stands to reason, if you make yourself ‘know’ more people, then you’re increasing your resources to find a job.

  • Social networking –  A large percentage of people have Facebook and check it regularly, you can keep up to date with any job openings in your local area via Facebook. Twitter gives you the chance to connect with businesses and industry links, interacting with their tweets and getting yourself noticed. And on Linkedin, you can build your own business profile, citing your experience and connect with other professionals you have worked with or would like to work with.
  • Job clubs – The government is supporting job/work clubs, but a number have been set up separately by private individuals. This is to try and overcome the difficult job market by gathering a group of people in the same situation and support each other. The idea of job clubs was first born in the north east in 1984 to address long-term unemployment. Now they’re nationwide and a great way to tackle unemployment.

Changes and checks

If your CV isn’t getting you interviews, or your interviews aren’t getting you jobs, it’s worth sitting down and trying to work out why.

  • CV checks – Is everything relevant, spelt correctly and specifically tailored to the job you’re applying for? Not mentioning how much you love helping and interacting with people for a customer service job will leave the employer wondering why you’re applying. Directgov has some detailed tips and advice on CV writing.
  • Reference checks – Are your references on your CV the best people to give an opinion on you? Make sure they’re as recent, relevant and reliable as possible, and perhaps agree with them in advance what they will say to prospective employers who’ll be contacting them.
  • Interview checks – Setting up a mock interview with a careers advisor and getting them to give you feedback may highlight anywhere you’re going wrong; simple things like a looking scruffy, not making eye contact or excessive fidgeting are all unnerving to interviewers.
  • Job checks – Are you qualified enough for the positions you are applying for? Do you fit all of their criteria? If not, you may have to apply for jobs further down the ladder and work your way up once in employment.

Success story

Moneymagpie spoke to Steve Wood, who set up the website White Collar Unemployed UK. Steve had been unemployed for some time, and wanted a career change to move into web design. He set the site up out of frustration when he felt he was not receiving adequate help from the Job Centre for white-collar industries. He hoped to share the information he had found and build a supportive community around it. From the act of making the website, Steve also taught himself the skills he wanted to learn.

As a past job seeker, Steve advises that in order to find employment, you need to be flexible and open to change. “I spent 38 years in the electronics and semiconductor industries,” he says. “Now I am doing web design and internet marketing. I basically had to start from scratch again.”

With the ethos that if the help isn’t there, help yourself, Steve also advocates starting your own business, or at least joining a local job club. “If there isn’t a job club near you, start one,” he asserts. “There is a wealth of knowledge and skills out there in the white collar unemployed community, you can help each other.”

While there’s a lot of advice and support out there to help with long-term unemployment, the most important and most challenging factor in securing a job is down to you. Stay positive and keep active.

Useful links

Take a look at some of our other articles which may be useful:

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