While the U.S. economy has shown some signs of recovery, the number of “long term unemployed” in the country is still estimated to be 4.8 million and accounts for 39.1 percent of all unemployed persons, according to the Employment Situation Report for December 2012 released by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The “long term unemployed” – defined as those people who are jobless for 27 weeks or more – have been out of work for at least half of one year and most will have to answer questions about “employment gaps” in their resumes and during interviews for jobs. For people who have been unemployed for two years or more, that could be a problem.
An August 2012 survey from online recruiting software leader Bullhorn found long term unemployment was worse for job seekers than criminal records. The survey revealed it was less difficult to place a job candidate with a non-felony criminal record in a new position than a long term unemployed candidate out of work for more than two years.
The anonymous survey of 1,500 staffing recruiters, corporate recruiters, and hiring managers who used Bullhorn’s products found that 44 percent of recruiters rated candidates unemployed for two years or more as "very difficult" to place while only 31 percent of recruiters rated candidates with non-felony criminal records as "very difficult."
When asked how long candidates could be unemployed before it became difficult for recruiters to find them a job, 36 percent of respondents answered between six months and one year, 17 percent said fewer than six months, and 4 percent said it was difficult to place unemployed candidates no matter how long they were unemployed. For more information, visit www.bullhornreach.com/content/recruiter-survey-results.
While explaining “employment gaps” on resumes or during a job interviews can be tricky, most career advice experts agree the best approach is to try to be positive and always tell the truth since employers will usually verify past jobs – including start dates, end dates, titles, salary, and references – with pre-employment background checks.
According to a Career Advice blog on job site Monster.com, jobseekers concerned about employment gaps should try to do the following when seeking employment:
- Think about activities with experience relevant to the desired job to fill empty time periods including volunteering activities, community service, consulting, and continuing education.
- Show that they are up-to-date with changes in their desired industry if returning to the workforce after an extended absence.
- Be sure the tone of their voice is not apologetic if they have been out of work due to raising a family, continuing education, caring for a sick family member, or recovering from an injury.
To help jobseekers in the State of California, the Employment Development Department (EDD) and One-Stop Career Centers offer Job Fair and Training Workshops that teach techniques to assist in conducting a successful work search. More information for job seekers is available at www.edd.ca.gov/jobs_and_training/More_Job_Seeker_Information.htm.