Surviving A Lengthy Unemployment

There are special considerations when you are unemployed for more than six months. Your skills and expertise are getting stale. Motivation is waning. Unemployment benefits are running out. Here are some survival tips:

If you feel you’ve been out too long, remember that in this difficult market many qualified candidates share your predicament. Employers will not hold this against you, if you come to interviews with fresh ideas. To keep your knowledge fresh, read trade journals, attend conferences, and keep in touch with your employed peers.

If you think you’re no longer competitive, improve your skills – whether specific to your job or in general (e.g., computers, marketing, communication skills). Look at libraries, community centers or colleges for free or subsidized classes. Teach yourself through books or online resources.

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    If you’re tired of looking, find different ways to keep motivated. Network with other jobseekers to share support and ideas. Keep a journal of your progress. Treat yourself after meeting certain targets (e.g., after making five new contacts).

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    If you’re low on cash, keep your financial goals separate from your career goals. While it would be ideal to make money by finding your next full-time job, you don’t want to take whatever comes along just because you need the money. In the immediate term, your financial and career needs are separate. Some ways to make cash: freelancing, temping, selling, babysitting, housecleaning. No job is insignificant if it keeps you in the search long enough to land that next job.



    Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart a career coaching firm for Gen Y professionals. Formerly in corporate recruiting and retained search, Caroline has recruited for Accenture, Booz Allen, Citibank, Disney ABC, Oliver Wyman, Pfizer, and Time Inc. She currently writes career columns for and and teaches Professional Development at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

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