How to explain long term unemployment in job interview

long term unemployment

Unemployment is part of life – and it can sometimes stretch to months. Lets face it.

When someone who has been out of the workforce for more than six months applies for a job, potential employers will have questions about that CV gap. CBS has tips on how to explain long term unemployment in a job interview.

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1. Explain in positive way. The reality is that recruiters and hiring managers will assume that you have a flaw or some other negative reason for your lack of work. Hiring managers and recruiters will expect you to hold yourself accountable and at least be able to articulate one or two solid reasons for this problem.

In short, if you can’t own up to what has happened to some degree, then the assumption will be you are flawed in your ability to see the situation for what it is. Moreover, you will be seen as someone who blames others for setbacks.

2. Do no mention Recession or Down Economy: In spite of the fact that the average length of unemployment in America is 10 months, you cannot use this excuse as your only reason for being unemployed for so long. This does not make you look unlucky but, rather, you appear as someone who feels victimized and helpless. So, a legitimate reason for being unemployed for this long is a combination of the current economy as well as mistakes made in the job search process. [This will] demonstrate professionalism and the ability to learn from mistakes.

3. Keep in touch with the industry. It is vital that you can assure the interviewer that you are not out of touch of your specific industry, despite of being unemployed for long. Specifically, you should be able to explain the top challenges, changes and trends that are being experienced by your industry. This will show your commitment to your field and your desire to stay in it.

Emphasizing freelance work or volunteer work is the ideal way to articulate that you have been making an effort to keep your skills current and contribute in some capacity. More importantly, this demonstrates that you understand the value of giving your time and energy as a way to continue growing yourself.

4. Show confidence for a comeback. Many individuals have lost their job through no fault of their own, yet they are experiencing a crisis of confidence in their abilities. Trying to hide that fear; even worse, not dealing with that fear will translate in your body language and facial expressions. In short, even if you think you’re doing a fabulous job masking it, hiring managers will see through you. Work with a trusted mentor, or better still an experienced career coach, who can help you work through your feelings and get you to a place where you can talk about this of employment objectively. [Check 8 tips on how to work with a Recruitment Consultant]

5. Too much humour may make it sour. It takes a unique personality to be able to use humour when discussing long-term unemployment. Too much joking and lighthearted excuses will make it appear as if you don’t really appreciate what has happened to you. Cracking jokes about the economy or mistakes you have made could also be misperceived as you blaming others for your situation. When it comes to long-term unemployment, accountability must be your mantra.

Bonus: Check these 5 top tips to cover unemployment gaps in your CV.

Have you been to a job interview after a period of unemployment? Share your experiences here.


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