February 17, 2011

Overcoming Job Hunting Hurdle if You’re Unemployed

There’s a scary trend building among employers, according to a  recent article on The Lookout.

If you’re hunting for a job, it’s getting harder and harder to find opportunities if you aren’t currently employed. Job placement professionals and recruits, such as Matt Deutsch of TopEchelon.com have reported seeing an increasing number of employers who won’t consider candidates out of work for longer than six months, and some won’t consider the unemployed at all.

That’s frightening news, considering these long-employed individuals are the ones facing an end to unemployment benefits. Over six million Americans are already at that point, unemployed for longer than six months, and there are nearly five unemployed candidates out there for every one job opening. So far, discriminating against the unemployed isn’t illegal in any state, though some are questioning whether or not the practice violates civil rights laws, and in a few states, legislators are exploring the legal implications of this kind of discrimination.

Employers are refusing to consider these candidates for a variety of reasons. Some believe that employees’ skills erode after not working for so long, and others are worried that there’s a good reason these candidates haven’t yet been hired (i.e., they’re not good employees). It can also be a worry that the person is getting desperate for a job, so could tell some white lies to get hired.

But the fact is that finding a job is just tough. If you’ve been out of work for over six months it might simply be because you just haven’t had luck when up against other candidates.

So how can you overcome this hurdle if you need a job? Here are some tips:

  • Get a job. Easier said than done, right? Isn’t getting a job the whole point? Well yes, but what I mean is this: go out and find a job, even if it isn’t in your preferred industry or is a lower-level job than what you want. Having even a call center job or retail job will help you qualify even with employers who won’t consider unemployed candidates.
  • Go back to school. Employers don’t necessarily consider you unemployed if you’re attending school for an advanced degree, and depending on your unemployment benefits, you might even be able to take classes for free. of course, the added benefit is that you’ll be more qualified.
  • Check out other locations. Moving might be scary, but if you’re motivated to find a job, check out the best cities for job hunters in 2011 and consider hitting the road to pound the pavement.
  • Volunteer. Non-profits across the country are happy to have some extra help, and although this isn’t work in the traditional sense, it shows employers that you’re keeping your skills sharp. This also helps you “work” without losing unemployment benefits.
  • Open your own business. While you’re job hunting, you could serves as a coach or consultant if you have expertise in a field where this is possible. For example, if you can’t find a teaching job, set up a website offering virtual tutoring for college students or if you can’t find a construction jobs, offer consulting to local real estate agents who work with clients interesting in find properties to flip. You might not bring in tons of money, but it looks better on a resume than nothing.
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