Returning To Work After Long-Term Unemployment

Returning To Work After Long-Term Unemployment


What is considered long-term unemployment?

Long-term unemployment occurs when an individual is jobless for at least one year. The most common examples of long-term unemployed workers include new mothers, travelling graduates and those suffering from physical or mental illness. Yet there are many other reasons for not being employed.

The possible effects of long-term unemployment on a person

Unemployment, when prolonged, can cause a number of effects. An individual may experience one or all of the following consequences to long-term unemployment:

  • Anxiety

  • Stress

  • Depression

  • Hopelessness

  • Low self-esteem

  • Strained relationships

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Financial difficulties

  • Homelessness


How long is too long of an employment gap?

There isn’t a specific time that makes a career gap too long, but in general it is best to limit both the number and length of the gaps within your work history. Keeping career gaps to three months or less is advisable.

If you are anxious about your career gaps, we have a few suggestions that will help you close the gaps and get back into work.


How to get back to work after a career break

1. Take care of your mental health

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Your physical and mental health may be impairing your job hunt. According to the UK's National Health Service, people in long-term unemployment are between four and ten times more likely to have depression and anxiety. A positive way to look at this is that it shows that taking steps to improve your mental health will also enhance your job prospects.


This week, schedule time to focus on your health with these simple steps:

  • See a doctor: Explain how you feel to the doctor or refer yourself to MIND

  • Meditate: Take five minutes a day to meditate using the free Headspace app

  • Exercise: Go for a walk or a jog in the park and when you are ready, start a work out routine

  • Diet: Ensure your diet is balanced and nutritious

  • Sleep: Aim for seven to eight hours sleep per night to leave you refreshed

  • Relationships: Reach out to a friend or family member for support


While these steps alone are not a magic wand you can wave to get back into work, they will help. Persistence and consistency are fundamental, but don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day of exercise. Simply continue the next day.


2. Make sure your finances are in order

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If your funds are low, it is crucial to acknowledge the situation head-on. After all, there are things you can do to improve your circumstances. This will also relieve some of the stress which may have been impacting your health.


Gain temporary financial relief from long-term employment by using these tips:

  • Tap into your rainy day savings (if you have any)

  • Apply for grants from the government

  • Pay off your priority debts first and call providers to explain your situation

  • Seek advice from your bank

  • Use your creative talents, skills and hobbies for extra cash

  • Sell unwanted items from your home


3. Make a schedule for your job hunt

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Once you are addressing your health and finances, it is time to create a schedule. The best way to approach a job hunt is by viewing the search as a full-time job. Creating a schedule will break down the ambiguous idea of a ‘job hunt’ into easily accomplishable steps.


What should be included in your schedule for finding employment?  

  • Research popular phrases used in job listings for your profession

  • List your professional achievements

  • Note transferable skills

  • Update CV

  • Get a professional photograph taken on a white or light background

  • Start writing responses to the most asked interview questions

  • Use search engines to find and save potential jobs


4. Reduce the size of your employment gap

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Even if you do not have full time work, you could still fill in the gap with temp work. Begin closing the employment holes today. Start freelancing, take an odd job here and there. You could even volunteer once a week and continue even once you get back into work! If you are creative, there are endless opportunities to fill these gaps.


5. Sharpen your skills with professional training


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This step is one of the most crucial elements of job hunting after an extended career break. Formal certificates and qualifications will improve your CV, but don’t forget about knowledge-based courses, too, which demonstrate praiseworthy traits to potential employers and show that ultimately, you will be an asset to their organisation.


What are the best courses for long-term unemployed individuals to get back into work?


Other resources to freshen up your skills and make you employable:

  • Plug into podcasts for dialogue on the latest issues in your field

  • Use online learning resources from platforms like LinkedIn and YouTube

  • Attend local events or join webinars

  • Read, read, read! Set up Google Alerts on industry-specific topics to stay in the know


6. Engage in social media and with industry experts

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When taking any short course, make it known online! Use your new knowledge to engage in conversations on social media. Read related articles and share, share, share! Simply, add your thoughts. One or two sentences will do.

While you can’t hide your long-term unemployment, you can show employers you are in the know, current and confident in your field.

Finally, why not contact a few local individuals who share your profession? Ask if you can have a casual chat as you are returning to the industry and have some questions. This meeting could be a valuable asset that helps you get back into work.

Equally, they may also have experienced maternity leave or travelled when they were younger. You would be surprised at how many people have also been unemployed for a year after graduation. People are likely to empathise and will happily share their experiences of returning to work.


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