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With the volatile economy and widespread layoffs worldwide, even the best and most skilled workers are experiencing the trauma of layoffs and can experience long periods of unemployment.

According to the latest Household Survey Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the USA, the number of unemployed persons is at 7.5 million with little changed as in February 2017. The number of long term unemployed (which is those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 1.8 million for February and accounted for 23.8 percent of the unemployed. The good news though is that over the year, the number of long term unemployed was down by 358,000.

Those in mining worldwide have been particularly hard hit with job losses. If you have been out of work for more than a few months, or you have long periods of unemployment between jobs on your resume, you can be sure that the hiring manager or recruiter is going to ask some probing questions around this. It is very important that you are able to answer these questions, as there can be a stigma attached to being out of work for a while.

Even when times are tough economy wise, there are some recruiters and hiring managers that may assume that if you have been out of work for a while, that there may be a problem with you, and may question or doubt your abilities. Hiring managers and recruiters will expect you to be able to hold yourself accountable and at least articulate a reason for your long term unemployment, regardless as to how shaky the economy is.

Blaming the fact that the economy is tough and that it’s not so easy to get a job at the moment, is not necessarily going to be enough to put their minds at rest. Even though the average job seeker is taking a lot longer to find employment because of the economy, you cannot use this as the only excuse and although you can use the current state of the economy as one reason, you will need to be able to take some ownership of the situation and give adequate answers as to how you are filling your spare time and to show that you are being proactive.

Before you go into an interview, you need to have given some thought as to what you are going to answer should this come up. If you left your position because you wanted to study further or had family matters that needed attending to, or something along these lines, say so, and make sure you give enough information that the interviewer understands. However should you have been out of work because of previous failures in the work place, you need to own up, and be honest.

Tell the interviewer where you went wrong, and what you could have done to change things, and how you would do things differently in the future in order to not make the same mistakes again. This way you will show that although you may have made mistakes in the past that you have at least grown from these experiences, and will hopefully not make the same mistakes again.

It is important that you let your interviewer know that although you may have been out of your industry for a while, that you are just as passionate about it, and that you have kept up to date with trends and what is happening in the industry. That way although you may have been out of the industry for a while, you can still show your commitment to the industry and your desire to stay in it. Should you have done any volunteer work or freelance work during this break, mention it, as it will show that you have tried as much as possible to keep your skill level up to date, and show your commitment to the industry.

Even if the volunteer work you have been involved in is not relevant to the industry, mention it, it will still show that you have commitment, drive and energy. For this reason it is important to fill your time that you are unemployed with meaningful activities, and anything that is professional and relevant should be considered.

Long term unemployment tends to permeate every aspect of your life. Not only do your finances take a massive hit but so does your self-confidence. When discussing your unemployment during the interview, it is very important to focus on the positives. Your insecurities will definitely shine through if you don’t come into the interview with a positive attitude. For this reason it is so important to show yourself as somebody who cannot wait to jump back into the workforce. Enthusiasm and industry knowledge can go a long way in convincing the interviewer that you are ready to work and that hiring you will be the right decision.

2 Responses to “Been out of work for a while? What to say in an interview..”

    • Susan Kihn

      Hi Marylyn, thank you for the enquiry. And the answer is yes! It is always important to be completely honest on your resume, as if you leave information off it can be seen as your trying to hide information, when you may have just left the information off because you felt it was not that relevant as for such a short period of time. You can always explain your reasoning for having left a job after in the interview. If it was a contract position be sure to specify this as well. Regards. Susan.

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