Long-term Unemployed? Consider Yourself as Unemployable? Don’t!!

Have you been in Job Transition for more than 6 months? Do you count yourself as one of the long-term unemployed? I (Al Smith) bet you didn’t know there are people who are interviewed throughout the media, proclaimed as experts and quoted ad nauseam stating that you are unemployable! That’s right, there are “experts” preaching a gospel that you should not even be considered if you are a member of the long-term unemployed.

The most insidious reason for not considering the long-term unemployed comes from one of these so-called experts who more-or-less says, Once you’re jobless more than 6 months, HR considers you unemployable. This propaganda has been repeated so often it is taken as fact. I was speaking recently at a career event where a participant explained that she had been told by a career ministry volunteer, “It will be very difficult for you,” since she had been jobless in excess of six months.

Are you the unemployable garbage [my term] the above pundits claim?

As a speaker and/or volunteer on a weekly basis, I’ve have seen thousands of individuals in transition over the past five years. The first career meeting I went to probably had in excess of three hundred attendees; I was aghast. My initial thought about that group was that there was enough talent to populate a decent size company. After learning more about them, my initial impression was proven accurate.

How about we look at one of these “unemployable, lazy slobs?” YOU

I am willing to bet that you were good at your job, but for whatever reason (economic downturn, acquisition, redundancy, etc.) that position disappeared. The fact that you lost your job doesn’t diminish the fact that you were good at what you did. Moreover, you’re probably busting your tail doing everything you know to return to the ranks of the employed, leaving those “hefty unemployment checks” in the dust. (If you’re so lucky to be getting benefits.) Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a perfect storm that is forcing outstanding talent, like you, into long-term unemployment.

Could your timing have been worse?

Despite the Department of Labor’s proclamation that the worst recession since the Great Depression has ended; that the stock market is hitting record highs; that companies are sitting on unprecedented amounts of cash; and that employees are required to do the work of many, real unemployment remains stubbornly high. (4.1Million; 36.1% of the total jobless in the USA are long-term unemployed according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

“The majority are older white men, according to the Labor Department, including many college-educated workers who rebounded from job losses earlier in their careers, only to see employment prospects dim in what should be their prime earning years,” stated Northwestern University’s Andrew Sum in Meghan Woolhouse’s Boston Globe article, Joblessness Hits Older Workers Hard; Time Is Not On Their Side.

You picked on me, what about the rest of the unemployed population?

In the state where I live, Georgia, we have the 5th worst long-term unemployment in the USA with 56% of the total in transition being unemployed for more than 13 months, as stated in Michael E. Kanell’s 2012 article on the subject. Nationally, according to the Department of Labor, the average time in transition is 40.4 weeks. That’s over nine (9) months – on AVERAGE!

So let me see if we understand. The vast majority of those unemployed are in transition more than nine (9) months, but the great experts state that you ‘need not apply’ after only six (6) months. Hmmm…Average 9 months unemployed, unemployable at 6 months

Fair is fair. We looked at you and others, let’s peel back the onion on one of the “experts”?

I did a little research on one of the people everyone seems to quote and interview. This person has had exactly two (2) jobs since attaining a Masters Degree (there is no job listed for the five (5) years between BA and MA). And according to the person’s LinkedIn profile, one of those jobs was as Vice President of Human Resources at the company that is purportedly is the reason for leaving Human Resources.

How does someone with ZERO experience become V. P. of Human Resources?

Good question. I have a few suspicions, but I wish I had an equally good answer. The other “job” of the two has been the person’s own company. Nothing wrong with that, but if someone has been out of the field of Human Resources in excess of a decade and been removed from direct contact with the industry (with only a few years’ experience in total), how does one maintain the status of an expert?

Ah ha! A bestselling book or two (without much of anything else in an entire career). What else?

Our human resources expert du jour cannot claim 500 LinkedIn connections (the level that most legitimate HR executives consider minimum acceptable), has virtually no endorsements, nor any other experience that one would expect to see from an oracle who can seemingly ruin the lives of otherwise valuable members of society.

Is writing a book or two and claiming to be a guru enough to bamboozle everyone?

Apparently so. But with having examined countless people’s experience levels, my conclusion is that YOU are much more deserving of a job and a bright future. You may not choose to take my word for it, but I believe you still have value. And from where I stand, that person (and others of the same ilk) should have no platform from which to speak.

Oh, you should read what some legitimate, experienced Human Resource Managers and Talent Acquisition Executives have to say about the person’s assertions. Yikes!

What can I do now?

My suggestion is that you start by reclaiming your value. You were a good employee in the past and will be an asset to your next employers. Now comes the hard part: you need to do more and work harder than other candidates out there, just like you did when you were employed.

Dig into your past to uncover your accomplishments, even group accomplishments. Unearth the keywords that legitimate recruiters seek from people with your title and background. State them on your resume and in self-created marketing brochures and throughout every online profile. Establish yourself as a Brand that solves the problems in the department of your expertise.

Yes, you have Red Flags, but so does every other candidate. But if you recognize them going in and create STAR stories that showcase your value proposition and/or minimize their concerns beforehand, you will succeed in your search. You have value.

You ARE employable! You WILL get a job.