Volunteer Work Can Counteract Discrimination Against Long-Term Unemployment

Research by the University of Toronto, McGill University and the University of Chicago indicates that applicants who had been out of work for 8 months had 45% fewer callbacks from employers. A study from MIT found that someone unemployed for 1 month would typically win 1 interview for every 10 job applications, while someone out of work for 7 months has to send 35 resumes to get just 1 interview. Not only is this wrong – it can be very demoralizing for those who have been in an extended job search.  stay work ready

Last week, President Obama met with leaders of more than 20 big companies to get businesses to hire more of the long-term unemployed. Chief executives of eBay, Boeing and Bank of America, among others, agreed not to use the stigma of long-term unemployment as a basis for denying someone a job. Other companies who have signed on include Apple, Wal-Mart, Ford, Proctor & Gamble, JPMorgan Chase and AT&T.

Their commitment to review the hiring practices that shut out the long-term unemployed is great, and I applaud the President’s efforts, but it is not enough. Jobseekers must take initiative to maintain their marketability. There are many things that the long-term unemployed can do to show employers that they are ready to work. Volunteer positions and internships can help jobseekers keep their skills sharp. Both can be listed on the resume as professional experience to fill gaps in employment. Jobseekers should scrutinize job postings to identify key skills that are valued by employers and gain any missing skills through training workshops or webinars.

There is a wealth of free training available on everything from Excel macros to six sigma and project management methodologies. Many of the larger library systems offer their patrons free career-related workshops.   As a matter of fact, I just presented on Tips To Get Your Resume Through The Applicant Tracking Systems at the Simsbury Public Library on January 29th. Some libraries offer free online training through Universal Class and many colleges and universities across the globe offer free non-credit online courses through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) on a variety of subjects.

So jobseekers, sharpen your skills or gain new ones to show employers that you are work ready. Don’t rely on job postings to locate your next position, as many open positions are not posted externally.   Make a list of companies where you’d like to work and then develop a networking strategy to get in front of the right people. One final tip: periodically evaluate your job search efforts.   If something is not working – either stop doing it or change up your approach.

Trish Thomas founded The Resume Resource in 2009 to help people develop the tools, strategies and confidence to build satisfying careers. As a Career Coach and Resume Writer, she helps her clients articulate their unique value to stand out from the competition, and guides them through the job search process to make it less overwhelming and more successful. Contact us to see how we can help you build a more rewarding career. www.the-resume-resource.com


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