Job interview help for the long-term unemployed
(MoneyWatch) Interviewing for a new job can be daunting for anyone. But for those who have been unemployed for months or even years, it can downright demoralizing. The constant rejection can undermine confidence, affecting a person during the interview, while the added pressure of landing a job after being jobless for so long can ratchet up anxiety when an opportunity finally presents itself.
David Couper, a career coach, consultant and author of "Outsiders On The Inside: How to Create a Winning Career... Even When You Don't Fit In," advises people who have been unemployed for at least six months to keep certain things in mind as they prepare for an interview:
Address any concerns. Although a long bout of joblessness is typically not the person's fault, given the unemployment crisis that followed the 2008 financial crisis, employers may still hold it against him. "Although some are sympathetic and realize that the recession caused this problem, many think that there must be something wrong [with the candidate]. The employers are also concerned that the person's skills or industry knowledge may be out of date," Couper said. Prepare to respond to any such concerns in the interview. The good news: They called you in because they are looking for you to prove their suspicions wrong.
Be flexible with a new contract. If you've been unemployed for longer than six months, you might not have the negotiating leverage you once did. "The unemployed may turn down some opportunities or set their expectations too high at the beginning," Couper said. "The less flexible they are on location, type of work or salary, the less chance they have of getting a job. The same applies to contract or freelance work. It makes sense to take that work rather than remain unemployed." Once you have your foot back in the game, you can start playing it like you did before.
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Keep things positive. Hopefully, you've been keeping busy, whether it's by taking education classes, consulting, volunteering or keeping up with your industry news. These are great talking points. "Don't talk about how tough the job market is, or how everyone out there is an idiot for not hiring you. Basically, keep it positive," Couper said.
Network. connect. repeat. Online databases should be part of your job search, but they're only one tool. "The biggest mistake is relying on finding a job online," Couper said. Co-workers, family, friends and other people in your online and "real-life" networks may very well give you the lead for your next job. Even if you do find a job online, you can use your network to find a contact at the company who can help steer your resume to hiring managers.
This is part 2 of a three-part series on long-term unemployment. Read Part 1, Long-term Unemployment and the Jobs Report, and look for Part 3, Long-Term Unemployment and Your Personal Relationships, on Wednesday.
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