Job Seeking After Long-term Unemployment

Guides, Jobseeker, Jobseekers / 18 January 2022

If you’ve taken an extended break from employment, perhaps due to childcare needs, caring responsibilities, travel or illness, re-entering the jobs market can be rather daunting.

How do you explain your unemployment to a potential employer? Do you still have the necessary skills to return to your career? Are you really ready to go back to work?

In this article, we’ll share advice on going back to work after long-term employment, including how to prepare for a return to work, what to put on your CV and where to find your next job role.

Job Seeking After Long-term Unemployment

 

Brush up your CV


Job seekers who have been out of work for some time are understandably cautious about including it on their CV. Our advice? Be honest – but put a positive spin on it. Present your break as a learning experience that helped you get a new perspective, try new things or build up your skills.

Before you start, make a list of everything you were doing while out of work, and think of the transferable skills you used that could be of value to an employer. For example, you might have helped raise money for your children’s school, supported a friend with their business or volunteered in your local community. Which skills did you bring to the table? Did you learn anything new from the experience?

Never lie about a gap in employment on your CV – it’s always better to be honest. The risk of being caught out in your lie is just not worth it.

 

Write a cover letter


If the job application allows, you can submit a cover letter alongside your CV to explain why you’ve been away from the workplace. A cover letter is a good opportunity to explain exactly why there’s a gap in your work history and to reassure an employer that you are ready and committed to returning to work.

Most employers recognise that time away from work isn’t always a bad thing. What’s important is how you address the gap and show that you used the time wisely and productively. Read more about how to manage a gap in your CV.

 

Network to make new contacts


Local business networking events and online business groups can help you build up your confidence and get your name known. Smaller businesses in particular often prefer to employ someone they already know and like. You don’t need to go in with any expectations, just be yourself, make contacts and build relationships.

New opportunities can also come from unexpected places, including social situations, so tell everyone you meet that you’re looking for work. A new acquaintance might know of a job opening, or even better, be looking for someone themselves.

 

Develop your skills


It’s always worth investing time in developing your skills while looking for a new job. If you’re returning to your previous line of work, refresher courses can help you brush up on existing skills and bring you up to date with any changes in your industry.

If you decide to try something completely new, look for beginners courses that can give you foundational knowledge and show potential employers that you’re committed to your new career path. Your local college or adult learning centre is a great place to find out about relevant courses near to you.

 

Take care of your mental health


Many people find that long-term unemployment can cause stress and impact self-esteem and confidence over time. This effect on mental health can impair your motivation to find work, leading to more time out of the workplace, further impacting mental health… and so the cycle continues.

Recognising this pattern and taking steps to improve your mental health will help you take the steps needed to return to work. See your GP for advice if you think you might need additional support with managing your mental health.

 

Access online resources


There are plenty of online resources to help you prepare to return to work. The Ultimate Jobseeker Guide walks you through the steps to take to find your perfect job, including where and how to look for jobs, updating your CV and preparing for interviews.

You can also access government advice about returning to work in this Toolkit for returners.

 

Register for job alerts


Job Lookup has thousands of job vacancies across multiple industries, from employers including Royal Mail, Aldi, Amazon and more. Use our job search to browse suitable roles and sign up to receive job alerts straight to your inbox.

Alongside online searches, let people in your social circle know you’re looking for work and keep a lookout for any vacancies advertised in your local area.

And finally, good luck!

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