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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Unemployed Blacklisting: 4 Ways to Overcome Long-term Unemployment on Your Resume

How to get a job
when you don't already
have a job? ...

4 "known-to-work" ideas

By Lawrence M. Light, ejobcoach.com

The trend, for some time now, has been for employers (and recruiters) to want to go after those who already have a job before they'll consider hiring them for a new job.

The New York Times, in a recent article entitled "When Being Jobless is a Barrier to Finding a Job" formally identifies this practice and suggests that New York City may adopt a law to allow such applicants to sue the employers in question (eighteen other states seem to be close to adopting similar laws).

BUT, and a big BUT, we all know that it's hard to prove that such a practice exists and, if it surfaces, it would be a long battle for an individual worker to successfully pursue it.

From an employer's point of view, by the way, this thinking is completely justified. Their belief is that people who are employed are among the best candidates because, unlike those who have been unemployed for some time, they aren't dispirited ... are using their skills successfully ... aren't "rusty" ... and don't have outdated skills. So it follows that, given the terrible competition out there, when a job listing gets hundreds of responses, an employer can be as picky and choosy as he or she likes.


So ... what can you, as an individual, do about it, especially if you're one of those people who haven't been able to find, or get, a job for some time now?


This is the question I've been asked by clients regularly. It's not an easy question to answer, and it's not always easy to do what I'm suggesting. But I honestly believe, if you'll follow these suggestions through with me, you'll begin to understand what you, as someone who really wants to get back to work, can do when presenting yourself to a recruiter and/or a potential employer.



To prepare yourself, you have to be brutally frank with yourself, not always an easy thing to do. If you were an Olympics contender, a runner, but you hadn't run a race in a year, you know you'd have to work extra hard to get back in shape. Think of yourself in such a race, up against the best of the rest, and begin doing the following to make certain you're the one who will pull out ahead of the pack.



#1 SHOW NO GAPS ON YOUR RESUME. Many of my clients build "consulting" engagements around their skills. Do bookkeeping for a local business. Program for your local church. Teach a Sunday school class. Work at a friends' business. Take a part-time job and show achievements in it. Fill that time up seamlessly. One woman I worked with was an excellent highly paid sales person who took a year off to teach Pilates. She was afraid of the "gap". What she finally realized was there was no gap in what she's done because the Pilates gig meant she had to keep her clients satisfied, selling them regularly on coming to class and working out, and it was even more demanding than her prior sales position. So, because she "got" it, there was no gap, not in her mind. (She also networked very well -- more on that.) She got the job and was back earning the top dollar income she had before she left.



#2 NETWORK. Network, network, network! Learn how to do it. As my friend, an astute coach himself, says, "If you have a job opening, and you know about somebody out there who's a friend who can fill it, you'd be stupid not to call them (even if they're out of work)." Networking is one of the most valuable habits you can develop. The woman mentioned above also networked right back into the job, even though she'd been "off" for a year; the best employer in her field knew of her reputation and their employees still knew her because she had maintained contact with them. But, please, learn how to network correctly so you don't "burn" up your network.



#3 MAKE SURE YOUR SKILLS ARE ALL UP-TO-DATE. There's nothing so pathetic as a person who isn't up to date on the skills his or her profession demands. If it's computer skills, take a night course. If it has to do with being up to date on what's happening in your industry, networking can serve as a learning tool, believe it or not. Practice without pay, maybe by temping at a local merchant or "interning" at a non-profit. Nothing spells "being too old" as not being current. And show these current skills in your resume.

#3 FIND OUT WHAT'S SPECIAL ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN OFFER AN EMPLOYER. This can take some digging. I usually work with clients on this when writing or re-writing their resume. Every person has a special talent but are often much too close to it to recognize it or to verbalize it in their resume. Once you understand this, and can show it to the world, you can stand out in a crowd of applicants. NOTE: ... Whether or not you've been unemployed for sometime! It's important, mind you, not to let the length of your unemployment drag you down mentally (exactly as the Olympic runner can't let his/her morale slacken in training or the actual race.)

#4 FIND OUT WHAT 'PROBLEM" THE EMPLOYER HAS AND HOW YOU CAN HELP HIM/HER SOLVE IT. If you can learn how to "read" and deconstruct a job description, and you have networked enough to have inside knowledge of what's really happening in your field, you can often smoke out the real reason a given job has been posted for the public. By understanding this, you can present yourself (through your resume and cover letter and during an interview) as someone who can solve that problem. I'll never forget the HR group that hired someone I worked with; they did so strictly because he had experience dealing with unions (which they were deathly afraid of) and strikes (which he had settled); please note that he had taken ten -- yes, ten -- years off to run an antiques business before returning to HR!

We'd love to hear about your experiences, pro and con, in connection with this very unsettling subject. Please let us know in the space below. And, if you want more information about any of the subjects implied here, from "Powerhouse" Resumes, to Cover Letters, to Interviewing, to Networking you can Learn More Here or Buy Larry's Workshop Instantly Here.

49 Benefits To Hiring An Older Skilled Worker: Download Now.



18 Post a Comment:

Anonymous said...

You make some really good points. However, when employer after employer gives the "Overqualified" speech when you have a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in your discipline and are certified you have to start to wonder if the employer is scared to death of you coming in to their business and finding out just how badly the business is being run and the people running it being outted. This was my last employment experience and the guy running the company should have gone to jail because he was stealing so much money from the company his parents owned. Basically, at the end of the day, companies want killer skill sets but aren't willing to pay for killer skill sets.

Anonymous said...



Great points!- I'm already doing all of these and now I need to double down on each one and stay the course. Unfortunately, in pharma sales, they want younger, cheaper, and low health care benefit costs per employee. Not to mentioned 1 rep out of a hundred gets an interview. With that in mind I would add another step and that is to AGGRESIVELY look out of your industry and job type.

Anonymous said...

How ironic that pharmaceutical companies look for employees who don't need to take pharmaceuticals.

Bert said...

Blacklisting speaks to some bureaucratic mobbishness going on...and you start getting into things like, your reputation. If you have a bad reputation, word is going to get around, and then you'll wish you didn't have a bad reputation, because it will negatively affect your current and future employability. No one in this world is an entity unto themselves, conduct yourself accordingly. Employers have the right to exchange information between themselves, call your references/previous employers, and if they don't like what they hear, you're not getting hired, period. They don't want people that can't control themselves, have a history of being belligerent towards the management, or just plain not doing/not trying to be proficient in their chosen line of work. After that, sometimes it can start to get into poltix, and newly, your online background is also becoming a factor, with checks being done by private investigators, security companies, and the local police dept. Lots to think about, there...

Anonymous said...

OK. Tell me how to hide a 4 year gap during which I didn't work. All the job listing state
"MUST HAVE RECENT EXPERIENCE (18 months-2 years) REQUIRED "
I've been taking classes and ceu's, but the next problem is
"MUST HAVE TWO YEARS EXPERIENCE AND SPECIALTY CERTIFICATION"
Those kinds of certifications require two years of experience in the field before one can take the exam. How do you change areas and learn the job without already having the experience?
That's what I am facing.
Help me fix all that stuff so I look great on paper and can change specialty areas.

Darlene Zambruski said...

Excellent advice. I'd add that it's important for any job seeker - and especially the long-term unemployed - to have a results-based resume rather than one that simply lists tasks/responsibilities. The more you can quantify how you achieved at your last place of employment – making or saving your employer money, the more likely it is you'll be taken seriously.

Darlene Zambruski
ResumeEdge.com, JobInterviewEdge.com Managing Editor
CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer)

http://www.resumeedge.com/
http://www.resumeedge.com/blog

Anonymous said...

I think you would focus on obtaining an internship or volunteer doing the same type of work at a non profit. It should still count as work history.

Anonymous said...

Yes it was helpful and true. What I find interesting is that these same people who turn away the older experienced worker will ultimately be the older experienced worker being turned away-and they need to know it will happen. The guy who said "we're all young around here" to the 45 year old candidate needs to be fired-he/she is a lawsuit waiting to happen. An older experienced hiring manager would have been much less likely to have made that mistake.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this article was useful. Personally, I have faced both age discrimination and employment gaps as a barrier to employment. With that said, I also only list ten years of experience on my resume and don't say "more than thirty years" in a cover letter.

Archer said...

Very relevant and good advice.

This is the employee - I am resource, a "body", please find use for me - paradigm.

Unfortunately most people are using this "business model". This worked well in the industrial era when jobs were stable and pension was a reasonable expectation.

In the knowledge era things change dramatically fast and big business is bigger than "Big Brother".

They have to adapt and they do:
- they use technology to learn what the market wants
- they adapt by developing business capabilities to respond
- they cut "living costs" until they match the value they bring to market in order to survive
- they even move altogether to a different country.

The time is ripe for individuals to become businesses as well and do all of the above.

Imagine how the world would be if instead of being just a client to the system, bound to pay living costs that are not justified, everybody focused on providing value and cutting costs.

Imagine how the world would be if graduates did the above instead of going to college and then "looking for a job".

Hope it helps.

Nick V

Archer said...

Very relevant and good advice.

This is the employee - I am resource, a "body", please find use for me - paradigm.

Unfortunately most people are using this "business model". This worked well in the industrial era when jobs were stable and pension was a reasonable expectation.

In the knowledge era things change dramatically fast and big business is bigger than "Big Brother".

They have to adapt and they do:
- they use technology to learn what the market wants
- they adapt by developing business capabilities to respond
- they cut "living costs" until they match the value they bring to market in order to survive
- they even move altogether to a different country.

The time is ripe for individuals to become businesses as well and do all of the above.

Imagine how the world would be if instead of being just a client to the system, bound to pay living costs that are not justified, everybody focused on providing value and cutting costs.

Imagine how the world would be if graduates did the above instead of going to college and then "looking for a job".

Hope it helps.

Nick V

Anonymous said...

I like the article, as it was encouraging, but I like the comments as well. What I have found is that there is value to looking to what other people have found to be challenges or benefits that even the most experienced job advisor may not realize is going on in the real world.

Anonymous said...

I. Agree. Do not give up. There is hope... I use to make six figures plus. Was downsized when my co. Was sold off. Was outta of the market for 4 years! Caring for my terminally ill father. Long and short. I utilized all of the steps from the article. Overcame the following areas where you see discrimation. Age
Gender unemployment race and location.
I also have multiple degrees...so you too can find the right job.

Anonymous said...

All:

Thanks for the insights and feedback. The four keys are certainly applicable, appropriate and effective as part of a re-entry strategy. I hear some indications that the 'new HR mentality' is designed to defeat the most diligent efforts of any responsible 'seasoned' professional -- even with the desired skill sets. I wouldn't say that's universal, but it may indeed be prevalent.

What is important in today's web-enabled, social media-driven environment is being searchable against the problem-solving areas of your targeted industry category or vertical. It may be that you need to establish the employment relationship via a consulting project and deliver unique and irresistible value that reinforces and strengthens your networking inside those companies. Also -- and while it isn't an immediate permanent solution -- commission-based (no draw) business development roles are becoming easier to find in many fields, as companies migrate toward a variable cost / no-risk model.

Value and worth are in the eye of the beholder, and employers get to set the terms, fair or not. But people are still crucial to problem solving, so #4 in the article is certainly a viable approach. It may involve a pro bono White Paper to get someone's attention (which is where Networking weaves in, obviously), but if you know what people need and can deliver, you can get paid.

Anonymous said...

On the point about caring for a family and an elderly relative's accounts:

Does it make sense to put on your resume "9/2010 - present: Family care for 3 children: transport to and from school" and "6/2012 - present: Attorney in Fact for mother-in-law: manage bank and retirement accounts"?

Anonymous said...

I think that #1 is invitation for fraud. We are so afraid that the company might discover that we are not perfect, so fill the gap with SOMETHING, even if it is stretching the truth to a falsehood. Set backs in life happen. S#$% happens. It is too bad that we want to see a perfect person who has been continuously employed and treat unemployed people as poison, but that is human nature. How to fix; I disagree with legal fixes; they cause more problem than they solve.

Your other ideas are very valid: keep your skills current. network.
#4 is the best way and should be at the top of any job seekers list is to learn what problems your perspective company has and show them you know how to solve them. I love your example.

If you have to show NO gaps in your resume, consider that you may be competing at the wrong place. If you are competing with the best of the best, then yes, I would assume that you have been continuously employed in the right capacity for 10 to 15 years. OK, so what would be wrong with finding a lower job where they were looking for someone at lower pay with the right skills, My friend did this- he took a low paid job as an assembler to get into the company, they didn't care about the gaps in his resume. Many months later, they hired him at the level of his expertise. happy ending.

#3 is also great and is what I am doing. If you are 22 out of college, then I don't expect you to have great specific skills and your pay will be accordingly low. As you get older, people should find a specialty where they excel and market that. What can you do that a 22 year can't do? I love your example of the guy who was hired specifically because of his ability to work with unions. yes, great example. As for myself, I am pursuiing a certificate that few people would bother but I know will always be in demand. And when I get a job in it, I want to specialize in something so that companies will seek me out.

Anonymous said...

I took time off from a technical career to raise a family, deal with aging parents, and most recently handle a move to a new state. Although I have been dabbling in the technical arena on and off, I have a 10 year gap. Every time I apply for a job, I have to upload my resume to the website and the information is pulled into a standard format form and then I have to edit it so it makes any sense. Each one requires dates - some even down the start/end DAY. I have been told by several older men who look at hundreds of resumes in my field, that if I use a functional format, they would throw it out. They are not accustomed to looking at them and won't bother taking the time to figure out what is where. They give it 20-30 seconds each. Also, they do not recommend putting down any responsibilities that I had as a parent...all parents have them and it doesn't belong on a resume. So, all the information I was told at a resume seminar about hiding gaps by using a functional style resume and putting down responsibilities that I had as a stay at home parent that relate to a job, went right out the window. Even going to job fairs, I have had big companies hand me a business card and tell me to put my resume in their system; they were not collecting them. The computer scans for keywords and if you don't have the keywords, you don't even get looked at by a human.

How do you get around that?

Anonymous said...

The last persons comment reads "The computer scans for keywords and if you don't have the keywords, you don't even get looked at by a human.
How do you get around that?"

To address this question-I would print out the job description and highlight the keywords as if you are studying for an exam.

Then you incorporate those keywords into your past job duties in the resume and in your cover letter as well.

I did this and got some interest from an employer for a government job.....I did not end up getting the job because they chose someone (possibly already working in the government) That had the specialized experience.
But the fact remains that I got the employers attention.

Keep fighting!!

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