Job Seeker Tips if You’ve Been Unemployed Over 4 Months

Posted by Nancy Gober

If you’ve been searching for a new position with little or no success — sending out resumes, filling out applications,  networking — it’s easy to become discouraged, deflated, and defeated.

However, I have worked with a number of clients who experienced long-term unemployment and yet did find jobs. Good jobs. Even after they had been out of work for 6, 9, 12 months or even longer.

Did they do things differently? Absolutely. Here’s what they did, and that you can do as well, to find success.

Tip 1: Change your habits. Chances are as the months have gone by you’ve developed some non-productive habits and behaviors – job search and otherwise. These are not leading you to discover leads to employment. Here’s why:

A pro-active search should generate networking meetings, leads, invitations to meetings and events, interviews, and ultimately offers. That’s what we mean by success. If your search is not generating the aforementioned results, something’s wrong. And it is probably that you’re spending your time on activities that generate the least productivity when it comes to finding a job.

Non-productive job search activities include:

  1. Spending most of your job search time on-line filling out applications. Only complete applications when you meet at least 90% of the job requirements.
  2. Spending too few hours a day working on your search. Finding a job is a job and you should spend at least as much time working at finding a job as you would on your job.
  3. Contacting the same — few — contacts and companies over and over and over again.
  4. Setting limits on locations where you’ll work.
  5. Not following up on leads, contacts, or after interviews.
  6. Not expanding your network.

As time goes by, these non-productive activities become habits. It generally requires some outside assistance to identify these habits and behaviors since it’s hard to see ourselves. Especially when we’re not sure what we’re looking for.

Tip 2: Get a coach. It’s the biggest key to re-generating your search into a positive and productive one.

A coach will quickly key into non-productive habits, ineffective marketing, negativity, destructive body language and other things a job seeker may be doing to sabotage their success. If a private coach is off your budget, then seek assistance from:

  1. Your local state employment services who can give you some coaching.
  2. Job seeker self-help groups who meet regularly to share experiences, lessons learned, and productive techniques and tips.
  3. Professional colleagues who have a sense of the employment market.
  4. Self-help websites.

Tip 3: Show current experiences on the front page of your resume. Build your resume while you search. Engage in productive, profession-related resume-making activities during your search. These activities can go on your resume, illustrating that:

  1. You are keeping current in your field
  2. Keeping skills honed
  3. Gaining new useful knowledge
  4. Developing new skills and knowledge that will benefit your employer.

In addition to taking courses and classes, build your resume while you search:

  1. Write a white paper,
  2. Perform consulting services
  3. Do short-term contracting
  4. Volunteer using your skill sets. An accountant becoming treasurer of an association, an HR rep staffing the volunteer talent bank, a landscaper landscaping the garden of a non-profit organization, etc.

These go on the resume!

Tip 4: START networking NOW! Networking leads to leads, that lead to interviews, that lead to offers for jobs. Networking uncovers jobs that exist but that are not initially openly advertised. Networking, meaning engaging with people daily, is one of the most important things you can do to find a job.

But job seekers fight networking. It’s a scary thing. However, it helps to know that networking is only a skill. And skills can be learned. Pick up a book. Watch this networking video, or this networking article. Take a class to learn what the skills are, and practice them.

The biggest way to reduce fear of going to a networking event is to do some homework. Preparation goes a long way in reducing your angst about networking:

  1. Know what you want to say about you. Prepare, practice, and learn your elevator speech or 30-second commercial.
  2. Know what you want to ask about them. Learn about who will be there, and note an item you want to say or ask about when you meet these people at the event.

To sum it up

No one said that finding a job is easy, especially in today’s tough employment market. And if you have been at it for a while it may feel like the impossible dream. But I am here to tell you it’s not impossible at all.

I have worked with 100s of clients over the last few years who not only found jobs but good jobs. But it did not occur by happenstance. They planned, persisted, acquired knowledge, and developed skill in searching for their next job…and found it. You can too!

Nancy Gober is a career strategist who has helped thousands of job seekers find employment. She’s also been a popular resume reviewer at our Cleared Job Fairs. You may reach Nancy via email at [email protected] .


  • Nancy Gober

    Nancy Gober is a career strategist who has helped thousands of job seekers find employment, and the author of “Jobs Are Not Found Sitting at the Computer.” You may reach Nancy via email at [email protected].

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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 2:39 pm

2 thoughts on “Job Seeker Tips if You’ve Been Unemployed Over 4 Months”

  1. This is all very generic, with no acknowledgement that the cleared community has some unique difficulties. Government procurement rules mean that all positions have to be advertised; that’s pretty unique. The security clearance process and work environment engenders a need for privacy and a habit of secrecy that makes networking a big challenge. Many positions in the cleared community simply don’t exist outside — there’s no volunteer position equivalent to HUMINT analyst or missile maintenance. Short-term and consulting positions are just as bureaucracy-bound as full-time, so there’s little or no relief there.

  2. Webster, thank you for your e-mail. You raised a very good point: “It won’t work for you!” I’m glad you brought it up because if you had this thought upon reading my article, others may have also wondered if the advice will work for them in the cleared community. And that offers the opportunity for me to say “Try it; you’ll like the result.”

    Networking – You say networking won’t work for you in the cleared community.
    (1) Having worked for over 30 years, many of those years in the cleared community in human resources and human capital contracting, and for 6 federal defense contractors, my first response is Human Resources folks are people too – people with whom you can network! And you have the opportunity to network with folks in HR every time ClearedJobs.Net holds a Job Fair. Job seekers who I met at ClearedJobs.Net Job Fairs, followed up their initial meetings with the company HR representatives by networking and found assistance – if not internal champions.

    (2) Yes, it may be a challenge to find people in cleared positions to talk with. But, having also worked many years in the field of Career Transition, assisting job seekers with finding positions in industries ranging from banking to transportation to retail to defense, I can tell you that everyone finds networking a challenge because to quote them, their field is “unique.” And that’s true to some extent. Your challenge as a job seeker is to take the advice, and figure out how to make it work for you.

    Here’s an example: I worked with a ClearedJobs.Net attendee in 2013 who became a client and landed a desired position. This job-seeker-client had been spinning their wheels for several months, so here’s what we did:
    ● We first scrutinized their resume to see where it was ineffective; we found 3 problem areas.
    ● We then checked their “L”vator speech; not razor targeted on the goal.
    ● We then checked into the networking; too little and not effective. This job seeker, we’ll call Leslie, made a list of all network contacts, from early in their career to the present, and started contacting them. Most were helpful. Here’s the key: Even if these contacts were not still in jobs in which Leslie had known them, these contacts knew people (largely in the cleared community) to whom they could refer Leslie. Going from referral to referral eventually uncovered the ideal role for Leslie – a role in the cleared community where Leslie is employed today.

    Why? Because even in the technological age, people still make the decisions about staffing –
    ● People hire people.
    ● Oh, and by the way, it’s not a quick fix – Working at it daily, like a job, it took nearly a year but the end result is the desired result.

    Volunteering – You say volunteering won’t work for you in the cleared community.
    It may be that you can not volunteer to perform a task that is a direct function of a job you seek. But there may be some parts of the job in which you can shore up your skill or knowledge. Analyze the job you want to do – the functions you will perform, and the skills, knowledge, training, and certifications you may need. Are there things you can do to build or strengthen your capabilities, and are there places where you can contribute these skills (conferences, tech support groups, job seeker groups, etc.)?

    You can prove yourself right
    Finally, if you believe that “it won’t work for you,” you will prove yourself right! It won’t!

    What have you got to gain?
    I would encourage you to take a step back, re-group, and try the advice given in the article and in this response. As the earlier example illustrates:
    ● Examine your marketing tools – Are they effective?
    ● Analyze the messages you convey – Are you crystal clear about the role you want to do and your qualifications to do it?
    ● List your network contacts (even if they number only a handful at this point) – What have you told them? Are you interacting with them correctly?

    Obviously, each individual needs to tailor – as you call it “generic” – advice to their specific situation and personality. But try it. What have you got to gain?

    Best regards,

    AJC–Career Strategy
    [email protected]

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