Long-term unemployment is tough. This might seem like a surprise, but there are many more people looking for jobs than the monthly employment numbers suggest. You might've scratched your head when the numbers seem to say that we're near full-employment. But, if you're in the process of a long-term job search, there are a few things we would like you to know: you're not alone, it's not your fault, and keep it pushing at your own pace!
Before we dive into the best ways you can leverage this time to make yourself stronger on the job market, let's clear something up about unemployment statistics: What the 3.6% unemployment number can cause us to overlook is the underemployment number - recorded at 6.9% in September. This means the market is still competitive.
WHY LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT WON'T STOP YOU FROM LANDING A JOB
If you come across a statement like, "employers don't want to hire people out of work for long periods", do not take it at face value. This statement obscures some major context. First, managers and human resources pros are increasingly aware of the ebbs and flows of the economy. Second, and importantly, there are things you can do in your free time to bolster your skills and résumé. This shows pro-activeness and passion, two qualities employers love.
HOW TO CONTINUE BUILDING AND MARKETING YOUR SKILLS DURING UNEMPLOYMENT
Your skills, vision, and career objectives are your greatest assets in the job market. It's normal to panic or feel that because you're not part of a team that your skills won't be up to speed. If this recent report doesn't convince you otherwise, fear not! There are free and fun ways to keep your skills current, or even ahead of the trend.
• Take free online courses: New York State and Coursera partnered to make over 4000 courses available to state residents. Additionally, EdX.org is one of the most popular platforms for online learning. You can find classes for HTML coding, strategic brand management, digital marketing, and even user experience design. Certificates of completion, which you can stick on your résumé, are available for a fee.
• Join a free group through Meetup: There are dozens of groups and professional associations for creatives and professionals in the NYC-metro area. This is a great way to not only share ideas and develop new works for your portfolio with feedback from fellow creatives, but it's also a way to make new friends or acquaintances who could help you find your next job. Add groups or associations to your résumé.
• Check out volunteer opportunities for creatives through Catchafire. Nonprofits and causes are looking for everyone from copywriters to PR pros to graphic designers and more. Stick that on your CV, too.
• Read everything! It sounds so simple, but by following industry trends, agency moves, and new technology, you'll have a deeper understanding of the industry ecosystem than most. This insight enables you to understand how a job or set of skills translates into the larger system, and empowers you to frame your candidacy in such a way as to show off this strategic thinking.
DON'T HESITATE TO ASK FOR HELP
For so long, many of us have felt like we need to go it alone and be independent. We wouldn't have evolved if our ancestors believed that. Long-term unemployment isn't without its stress and anxiety. The important thing is to reach out to people (our email - firstname.lastname@example.org - is always open!) when you're having a difficult time. If your costs are mounting, check to see if you qualify for Unemployment Benefits. If you are struggling with a health crisis, check out the options available to you here.
Setbacks are a natural part of life and especially our careers. No matter how much time passes, keep your focus and go at your own pace as you learn. You will come out stronger for it.
Our warmest wishes