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A Collective Approach To Tackling Long-Term Unemployment

A person reaching out their hand.

When it comes to job hunting, there’s no denying that there’s a stigma attached to people who have been unemployed long-term. And there are quite a few resources aimed at helping them find work. But we know that long-term unemployment, while devastating to seekers, affects communities, too. So what would a more collective approach to tackling unemployment look like?

Deloitte and The Rockefeller Foundation are answering this question with three handbooks designed to: help job seekers revamp their job searches; provide employers with tools to hire these candidates; and enable collaboration within communities to identify solutions to problems associated with this economic challenge.

Each guide is full of actionable tips, stories, examples, and resources. We wanted to provide a short overview of the strategies suggested to job seekers, employers, and community leaders. For the full scoop, check out the individual guides:

For Job Seekers Navigating Out of Long-Term Unemployment

Know your story and what you have to offer

Questions about your time out of work will inevitably come up during your search. The more comfortable you are talking about what you’ve been doing and what you have to offer, the easier it will be for employers---and people who want to help you find work---to understand how you fit into a particular role or industry. Craft a few sentences outlining what you’re looking for, your key professional accomplishments, and what you’ve been learning and use this (tweaked accordingly) as an elevator pitch, profile for your resume, and during your job interview.

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Research financial assistance

While you may be concerned about your finances during your long-term unemployment, you may not have sought out all the resources available to you. Review the list of intermediaries included in the guidebook. Look at the resources not only as a means to gain relief from financial constraints, but avenues to expand your network and even refresh some skills. In fact, according to the Corporation for National Community Service, people who are unemployed increase their chances of finding a job by 27 percent. So, if you visit your local Goodwill, see if there are volunteer opportunities that you can take on. It will be time well spent.

Understand the employer perspective on hiring

When you’re facing doubt about your work history, understanding the employer perspective can give you insight into getting through it. Know the “why” behind an employer who overlooks a long term unemployed candidate, and tell your story in a way that allays their concerns. Also remember that employers use their networks and referrals extensively when they are looking to hire. What does that tell you? Expand your own network and take time to build substantive connections with others who can advocate for your candidacy.

For Employers Recruiting the Long-Term Unemployed

Rethink application and interview questions

Questions such as, “Are you currently employed?” or “Walk me through your resume,” place an emphasis on immediate work experience, instead of knowledge and skills learned. Incorporate more behavioral questions into your interview and avoid filtering applications according to current employment status.

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Keep an open mind and be deliberate

Studies have shown that the long-term unemployed tend to be more likely to stay long-term at the organizations where they work. Their loyalty and reliability are appealing attributes to those in a position to hire. Consider this the next time you are hiring for a position at your organization. Or, go one step further, and actively hire people who have been unemployed long-term. The guidebook offers questions and a sample strategy to help you jumpstart your recruitment efforts.

For Community Leaders

Identify the key characteristics of the long-term unemployed in your community

What is the size and scope? What are the demographics? In which neighborhoods are the long-term unemployed most concentrated? Also understand the root causes in your community: mass layoffs, skills mismatch, major changes to technology? This knowledge will make it easier for you to work with other leaders on crafting solutions.

Identify and mobilize your local support system

Once you’ve identified the challenges, you can start identifying the players in your community that can provide resources. Consider which organizations can provide skill-building and training, networking resources, and individual support and how they can all work together. For example, meet with a local business and learn how they want to be involved in addressing long-term unemployment and connect them with the right resources.

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By Victoria Crispo

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