How to Fight the Stigma of Being Unemployed

By JobHero

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People who have been unemployed for a lengthy amount of time have a harder time finding jobs. There is a stigma against the long-term unemployed that is tough to overcome. It isn’t fair. Even the best employees can sometimes get laid off, especially in an economic downturn.

Recruiters wrongly assume something must be wrong with candidates who are out of work. Studies have proven that managers would rather hire people with no experience over someone that has been unemployed for a long time or has a gap in their resume.

So how do you fight the unemployment stigma? How do you get over the unemployment label? Here are a few tips to break through the stigma on your job search. 

1. Appreciate your value because you are valuable.

The hardest part of being unemployed is fighting the urge to become discouraged and depressed. You feel rejected and useless. Don’t let your lost job define you. Don’t let doubt creep into your life and keep you down. Self-doubt is incredibly unattractive to a potential new employer.

You are a worthy employee and you will find a new job. Thousands of people lose their jobs every day. Those people go on to find new jobs, and you will too. Never lose sight of all you have to offer. Another company will gain a great employee when they find you. Don’t dwell on it. Close that chapter and open the next one.

2. Fill your time with something meaningful and then add it to your resume.

The worst thing you can do is become a recluse. Get off of the couch right away, even if you don’t feel up to it. Keep learning and growing. You have the time whether you want it or not. You might as well use it to your advantage.

Volunteer in your community or take an unpaid position temporarily while you continue your job hunt. Enroll in a class or learn a new skill. Add it to your resume. Potential employers will love seeing that you did not just sit around during your unemployment. Instead you bettered yourself and your community.

3. Keep your skills sharp by continuing to use them.

If you don’t use it, you lose it! Continue to use your skills while you are out of work. Find a way to use your skill set so that you stay sharp and ready to enter back into the workforce at the drop of a hat. The last thing you want to tell your new employer is that you forgot how to do an essential task.

Stay involved in your industry and be active in your industry’s community. Engage with your industry peers and experts online through social media. Attend any networking event that you can. Stay up on current events and news surrounding your industry so that you can speak intelligently about it during interviews.

Grow your contact list while out of work. Use LinkedIn and other platforms to reach out to people in similar industries. Gather business cards from people you meet and follow up with them. They may be able to help you find a job or you may be able to use them as references down the road.

4. Walk into every interview confident and prepared.

Walk into every interview looking and acting like the best candidate on the market. Hold your head high and never let any lingering insecurities show through. You are a great candidate. You have to convey that to the hiring manager.

While your past should never define you, you will need to be prepared to answer the difficult questions such as “why did you leave your last job?” or “how have you spent your time while you were out of work?” Recruiters and potential new employers will want to know what happened. It is best to be honest and leave emotion out of it even if you feel like you were wronged. Let them know that you have learned from the experience (even if you had nothing to do with the reason you were let go). Keep your answers short and move the conversation back to why you are so qualified for the position. Always remain positive even when the questions get uncomfortable.

If you want to fight the unemployment stigma, you have to believe in yourself. You will not get a new job if you lose sight of how valuable you are. Set yourself up for success by finding new and exciting things to do while you are out of work and keeping your skills sharp. Believe in yourself and walk into every interview feeling like a million bucks. You will certainly change the employer’s opinion on unemployed candidates and the stigma one person at a time.

JobHero is a free resource that aims to help people at every step of their careers with resume samples, cover letter samples and more.


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