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6 Need-to-Knows if You’ve Been Unemployed for 10 Years

By Kat Boogaard
6 tips if you’ve been unemployed for 10 years

You’re embarking on your job hunt, and—unfortunately—you’re feeling a little short on confidence because you’ve been out of the workforce for an extended period of time.

Perhaps you put your career on hold so that you could raise your family. Or, maybe you had the luxury of just being able to take some time off for a while.

Either way, you bid adieu to the working world for quite a few years—but now you’re eager (and, admittedly intimidated) to jump back in.

The last time you job hunted was ages ago, and you know a lot has changed since then. From the rise of LinkedIn to the slow death of objective statements on resumes, you know you need to get up to speed before you start putting yourself back out there. But what exactly do you need to know?

Here’s your guide to all of those must-know things you should have under your belt if you’ve been unemployed for an extended period of time.

1. Polish Your Personal Brand

Personal branding has become a major point of emphasis in careers today. But chances are good that the last time you job hunted, it wasn’t even a well-known term.

Ten years ago, you’d send in your resume and hope to receive a phone call or maybe even an email inviting you in for an interview. For most people, that document was all that hiring managers had to go off of.

But today, one of the first things that employer will do is search for you online. And you want to make sure that what they find is good.

So how should you get started? If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, create one! That always displays near the top of the page of search results for a specific name, so the hiring manager will be able to view your profile and find out even more about what sort of value you could bring to their team.

Beyond that, you can build an active presence on other social media outlets, ask to write guest posts on industry-specific sites, and get involved in different associations, committees, and volunteer groups. All of that will create information that can be found when an employer tries to find out more about you—meaning you’ve established an incredibly positive personal brand for yourself!

2. Be Wary of the Phone

Yes, the phone is still very much a part of the job search process—hiring managers will phone screen candidates or call to schedule another interview. But the internet has pretty much overwhelmed all other methods of job searching, which means that very few people use phone calls to follow up with potential employers anymore. (In fact, many employers even list that they don’t accept phone calls right on the application!).

So, before eagerly punching in those digits, make sure you read the directions. In the end, it’s usually safer to send an email to follow up.

3. Get Out There

With that being said, you don’t want to fall into the same trap as so many other job seekers: Relying solely on the internet.

While it can make applying for jobs or connecting with potential employers that much easier, you still should plan to use your traditional networking skills to get out there and make some connections. Head to a get-together or a networking event in your area to remind people that—even though you were out of the working world for a while—you’re back now.

Another great place to start? Reach out to a former employer. If you left on good terms, that could be an awesome door to open again as you make your re-entrance into the workforce. You never know where it could lead!

4. Boost Your Skills and Get Informed

Let’s face it—things have changed (in some cases, drastically) since you were last employed. Companies have rolled out new software and tools to streamline processes and make things easier. Hey, there are even entire positions—like social media managers or app developers—that didn’t even exist a few years ago.

So, before submitting application after application, make sure you take some time to do some research and get up to speed on all that has changed in your chosen field or industry. Read news stories and articles. Dig into company websites. Set up informational interviews. Do whatever you can to get caught up on all of that important information.

After that? Figure out what new skills you might need to refresh or refine. Do you need to figure out how to work a specific program that pretty much every company in your industry uses? There are tons of online courses that can help you to boost those necessary skills and make yourself even more competitive in the job market.

5. Share Your Enthusiasm

Sure, you’ve been out of the game for a while—but, now you’re excited to jump back in and throw yourself full force into your career again. Fortunately, that enthusiasm can be one of your greatest assets.

That means you need to make sure that you emphasize it during your job interviews and conversations. Share what thrills you most about diving back into your career.

Hard skills can be taught. But enthusiasm and passion for what you’re doing? Not so much. So prove that you’ll bring that to the office with you every day, and you’re already a step ahead of everybody else.

6. Remember That Your Employment Gap Isn’t a Bad Thing

Knowing that you’ve been unemployed for years on end is usually enough to take your confidence down a few pegs when job searching. But, it’s important for you to remember that the gap in your employment isn’t something you need to apologize for.

Sure, it’ll require some explaining—that’s to be expected. However, needing to elaborate on something doesn’t make it inherently bad.

Don’t beat yourself up by thinking that your long-term unemployment means you’ll never be seriously considered for another job. Instead, think of how you want to explain it to hiring managers, pick what positive qualities you want to emphasize, and then move on.

In the end, filling your mind with self-deprecating thoughts won’t do you any favors anyway.

Jumping into a job search after you’ve been unemployed for ten or more years can be intimidating—but, it’s also exciting! The important thing to remember is that—since you’ve been out of the workforce for a while—you’ll have some catching up to do.

So, leave adequate time to get yourself up to speed and implement these six key tips, and you’ll be landing interviews in no time!

Kat Boogaard

Kat is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer covering topics related to careers, self-development, and entrepreneurship. Her byline has appeared in numerous outlets and publications, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, QuickBooks, Business Insider, and more. Find out more about her on her website, or connect with her on Twitter.

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