Breaking Out of Long-Term Unemployment

14.07.2016 1489

Long-term unemployment can wreak havoc on a person's sense of self-worth and well-being. Worse, big resume gaps or current unemployment may also mark a job seeker as "damaged goods" and make a long job search even longer. Economist and Princeton University professor Henry Farber told alot about what the long-term unemployed are up against in today’s job market.

Root Causes Of Long-Term Unemployment

READ ALSO: Everything You Need To Know About Unemployment in Nigeria

Perhaps most challenging for those who have long been out of work is the self-perpetuating cycle that makes it harder for them to find a job the longer they are unemployed. Unemployed workers lose opportunities to update their skills and job-specific competencies and may lose touch with their professional networks. Even if this erosion of skills and networks does not affect workers, employers often see long-term unemployment as a sign of an applicant’s lack of productivity.

Recently, researchers at Northeastern University found that job applicants who have been out of work for over six months received dramatically fewer callbacks from potential employers, despite having better qualifications than those who have been employed during that time.

Right now companies are very choosy about who they hire and they often give short-shrift to those who’ve been out of work a long time.

In another study, economist Rand Ghayad found that companies even favored job applicants without relevant experience over those who used to work in the same industry but have been unemployed for a long stretch.

Breaking Out of Long-Term Unemployment


The most important thing you can do to boost your chances on the jobs market after a long spell away is to update your skills.

Enrol on - and complete - one of the many free courses available and you’ll see a ripple-effect of positivity. This includes a huge lift to your confidence and morale, as you’ll be meeting and learning alongside people in the same situation as you, and practising professional skills in a safe place.

The government ought to have programs to help people get skills that are in need, and so on. And it might even be that people need to be willing to move to find work in ways that they haven’t.

Be upfront

If you’ve been out of work for a long time, it’s absolutely vital to explain the reasons why to employers. So whether you’ve brought up a family, felt unwell, went travelling or simply been unlucky in the jobs market, explain your absence in a few sentences.

Employers understand CV gaps, and your explanation immediately transforms you from being a statistic into a human being with a personal story, and most employers are happy to give a good person a chance.


Voluntary work, whether it’s helping out at a school, charity or church, will get you back in the habit of being at a certain place at a certain time. Experts often say the most essential skill for getting back into work, and keeping a job, is the discipline of setting an alarm clock.

Stay current

Reading industry trade publications will help you stay current, so you understand the relevant practices and latest trends in your profession. This shows potential employers you’ve made the effort to keep up-to-date with the industry, and will lead to an easier re-entry into the workforce once an offer is made.

Many of today's job seekers have been unemployed for a longer-than-expected period of time. So while there isn't much you can single-handedly do to fix the current economic downturn, you can learn how to meet new employer expectations and become more attractive in the job market.


Get Individual Newsletter
We will send articles selected just for YOU
Recent jobs:

Administrative Assistant Lagos • from 50 000 to 65 000

MegaMind Resources

Crop Quality Supervisor Lagos • from 100 000 to 180 000


Graduate Trainee Lagos • from 100 000 to 150 000


Business Development Executive Abuja • from 70 000 to 120 000


Accountant Lagos • from 120 000 to 180 000


All jobs