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The Long-Term Unemployed Face Daunting Challenges

Unemployed man

January 29, 2014

Diminishing unemployment benefits. The "pink slip stigma." Losing a job can be distressing enough, so the challenges of a subsequent long-term unemployment only add insult to injury. A new survey of more than 300 long-term unemployed Americans highlights how prevalent -- and demoralizing -- these challenges can be.

A recent survey from the jobs website CareerBuilder provides insight into the lives of those who have gone a year or more without work. According to United Press International, the results paint a picture of the hardships these struggling Americans face -- like the fact that a quarter of them have had trouble feeding themselves and their families. A quarter also indicated that their close relationships suffered as a result of their unemployment, and one in 10 said they had lost a home or apartment because they were not able to pay their rent or mortgages.

It has long been understood that the longer you are unemployed, the more difficult it is to find a job. The survey backs up this notion, often called the "pink slip stigma." According to the results, 63 percent of participants have found that the longer they are unemployed, the less responsive employers become. Though nearly a third have not had a single job interview, three out of 10 have had five interviews or more ,and 14 percent have had 10 interviews or more.

So what should you do if you find yourself among the ranks of the long-term unemployed? George A. Boyd -- an author and former counselor who once battled 15 months of unemployment -- recommends taking steps to protect your credit.

"If you are running up high amounts on your credit cards, as I was, look into credit card insurance," Boyd told CityTownInfo. "If you continue to be unemployed beyond the expiration date of your [unemployment insurance] benefits, this service will pay minimums on your credit cards for one year. This will keep you from defaulting on your credit cards."

Limiting credit chaos can help ease the impact of long-term unemployment, but what about finding another job? The key to finding work, suggests Boyd, is flexibility.

"Be willing to expand your concept of what you are able to do. You may be able to find employment in a field related to what you were doing before, said Boyd, who noted he was once a drug counselor before unemployment lead him to modify his career path. "I was able to reframe this perspective to see myself as a counselor first, which could then be applied to other areas of counseling.

Tara Goodfellow, manager director of the career and college coaching firm Athena Educational Consultants, told CityTownInfo that unemployed workers should find creative ways to feel productive while honing new skills, like volunteering in an office to become more computer savvy. She also recommends doubling down on networking efforts to increase visibility and uncover new job leads.

"If you're not on LinkedIn, build your profile full of accomplishments, industry strengths, recommendations, join groups and connect, connect, connect!" said Goodfellow. "Reach out to your connections -- previous colleagues, church members, charities, gyms, during your children's Little League games. Let people know how they can help."

Above all, suggests Goodfellow, take care of yourself -- especially in moments of defeat.

"Recognize this as part of the process and consider ways to combat it such as carving out some time for fun or relaxation each and every day."


Compiled by Aimee Hosler

Sources:

Interview with George A. Boyd, January 27, 2014

Interview with Tara Goodfellow, January 27, 2014

"The realities of long-term unemployment include many hurdles," upi.com, January 23, 2014, http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2014/01/23/The-realities-of-long-term-unemployment-include-many-hurdles/UPI-30951390488901/

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