Long-Term Unemployment? Tackle it With a Collective Approach!

When it comes to job hunting, there’s no denying that there’s a stigma attached to people who have been unemployed long-term. And there are quite a few resources aimed at helping them find work. But we know that long-term unemployment, while devastating to seekers, affects communities, too. So what would a more collective approach to tackling unemployment look like?

Deloitte and The Rockefeller Foundation are answering this question with three handbooks designed to: help job seekers revamp their job searches; provide employers with tools to hire these candidates; and enable collaboration within communities to identify solutions to problems associated with this economic challenge.

Each guide is full of actionable tips, stories, examples, and resources. We wanted to provide a short overview of the strategies suggested to job seekers, employers, and community leaders. For the full scoop, check out the individual guides:

For Job Seekers Navigating Out of Long-Term Unemployment

Know your story and what you have to offer

Questions about your time out of work will inevitably come up during your search. The more comfortable you are talking about what you’ve been doing and what you have to offer, the easier it will be for employers—and people who want to help you find work—to understand how you fit into a particular role or industry. Craft a few sentences outlining what you’re looking for, your key professional accomplishments, and what you’ve been learning and use this (tweaked accordingly) as an elevator pitch, profile for your resume, and during your job interview.

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Research financial assistance

While you may be concerned about your finances during your long-term unemployment, you may not have sought out all the resources available to you. Review the list of intermediaries included in the guidebook. Look at the resources not only as a means to gain relief from financial constraints, but avenues to expand your network and even refresh some skills. In fact, according to the Corporation for National Community Service, people who are unemployed increase their chances of finding a job by 27 percent. So, if you visit your local Goodwill, see if there are volunteer opportunities that you can take on. It will be time well spent.

Understand the employer perspective on hiring

When you’re facing doubt about your work history, understanding the employer perspective can give you insight into getting through it. Know the “why” behind an employer who overlooks a long term unemployed candidate, and tell your story in a way that allays their concerns. Also remember that employers use their networks and referrals extensively when they are looking to hire. What does that tell you? Expand your own network and take time to build substantive connections with others who can advocate for your candidacy.

For Employers Recruiting the Long-Term Unemployed

Rethink application and interview questions

Questions such as, “Are you currently employed?” or “Walk me through your resume,” place an emphasis on immediate work experience, instead of knowledge and skills learned. Incorporate more behavioral questions into your interview and avoid filtering applications according to current employment status.

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Keep an open mind and be deliberate

Studies have shown that the long-term unemployed tend to be more likely to stay long-term at the organizations where they work. Their loyalty and reliability are appealing attributes to those in a position to hire. Consider this the next time you are hiring for a position at your organization. Or, go one step further, and actively hire people who have been unemployed long-term. The guidebook offers questions and a sample strategy to help you jumpstart your recruitment efforts.

For Community Leaders

Identify the key characteristics of the long-term unemployed in your community

What is the size and scope? What are the demographics? In which neighborhoods are the long-term unemployed most concentrated? Also understand the root causes in your community: mass layoffs, skills mismatch, major changes to technology? This knowledge will make it easier for you to work with other leaders on crafting solutions.

Identify and mobilize your local support system

Once you’ve identified the challenges, you can start identifying the players in your community that can provide resources. Consider which organizations can provide skill-building and training, networking resources, and individual support and how they can all work together. For example, meet with a local business and learn how they want to be involved in addressing long-term unemployment and connect them with the right resources.

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Have you downloaded these resources? What do you think? How would you improve them? Share your insights in the comments.

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I became acquainted with Idealist in late 2000 while working in the career development office at a private liberal arts college in NYC. I used it almost daily to help students and alumni find meaningful careers. After a 12-year stint in higher education, I worked as a career coach for professionals in various industries (and still used Idealist). During one of those many searches, a listing really caught my eye- the one for the newly-created position, Careers Program Coordinator. So... I jumped at the opportunity. Since then, I took on the role of Manager of Career Content for Idealist Careers, creating career content for job seekers, leaders, and other nonprofit professionals. Understanding the roles that a positive outlook and holistic self-care play in career success, I've shared with our readers time-honored methods for improving confidence and productivity. Now, as Manager of College and Professional Development, my focus is on lifting the advice from Idealist Careers "off the page". Drawing from my experience in career development, I propel job seekers and career changers towards taking control of their searches with confidence and removing fear, uncertainty, and other blocks to success via in-person workshops and seminars, webinars, and conference programming. My great loves are cooking (preferably without a recipe, otherwise I doctor it up), dancing, live cultural performances, identifying the tasting notes in a good cup of coffee, exploring neighborhoods for hidden gems, and anything else that sparks the senses and allows me to experience all the beauty, dynamism, and intrigue that vivaciously living in a remarkable world offers.
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  1. Pingback: Long-Term Unemployment? Tackle it With a Collective Approach! - Aim Blog

    • Heather Barber
    • October 10, 2016

    I so enjoyed reading this and I wish more employers thought through their questions and approach more like this. I’ve been unemployed for about two years now. I’ve been actively searching and interviewing since I left my last position, but after a few month and then after a year all anyone wanted to know was what have you done lately. This article really hit the spot and is making me think about a better answer to that question. I’m not sure employers completely understand how hard it is to be in the long term unemployed shoes and I am always struggling to project than I am more than my most recent job!

    • Eva Roster
    • October 17, 2016

    Thanks for addressing this important issue. We need to do more to rehabilitate people who have been unemployed for a long time. It is our duty to help them so that they can make themselves useful by contributing to the society.

  2. Thank you for another informative article, Victoria. Is it widely known in the human resources profession that the long-term unemployed are more loyal and reliable? Or is the information from these studies relatively new?

    1. Hello Charles, glad you found it informative. The resources that were published by Deloitte in collaboration with The Rockefeller Foundation reference studies from 2014.

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