How to Approach a Recruiter after Being Out of Work

So your unemployment dragged on a lot longer than you expected it to last. You are certainly not alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.8 million people have been unemployed for 99 weeks or more. With the economy in recovery mode, chances are good you will find yourself sitting down face-to-face with a hiring manager or recruiter before too long. Surely you are wondering how you can overcome the stigma of having been unemployed for a year or two or three.

If you are worried about how a potential employer is going to view a spotty work record, you should be. According to a recent survey of 1,500 staffing recruiters, corporate recruiters and hiring managers by Bullhorn, a Boston-based maker of recruiting software, people who have a criminal record but have managed to hold down a job are typically viewed more favorably by hiring managers than people who have found themselves out of work for two years or more.

So just how do you go about making yourself attractive to hiring managers and recruiters after an extended stint of unemployment? Here are some pointers:

1)     Be honest about why you found yourself unemployed. During the recession, many people found themselves out of work due to economic reasons, rather than performance-related ones. If you can provide a reference that will vouch to that fact, by all means do so. If your reasons for not working are more personal, say you opted out of the workforce to care for an elderly parent or stay home with your young children, don’t be shy about sharing that fact. You’d be surprised how many recruiters or hiring managers will understand the need to care for loved ones.

2)     Explain how you have kept your skills and/or knowledge fresh during your hiatus from the workforce. If you have taken relevant classes, either online or in-person, be sure to include that fact. Volunteer work can also serve as relevant experience, especially if you have voluntarily performed the kinds of tasks you used to do professionally – business consulting to your local church or Boys & Girls Club, for example.  You can even share information on the kinds of books you have read if they are applicable to your chosen career path.

3)     Don’t be embarrassed to talk about other paths you have chosen to take during your time-off from the daily grind. Did you write a book, travel, learn a musical instrument or climb a mountain? Anything you can do to show that you weren’t merely sitting in your pajamas watching Dr. Phil and eating Cheetos will prove helpful as you seek to demonstrate you are the right person for the job despite your hiatus from full-time employment. If you worked part-time during this time, be sure to mention that, too. It will look far better than remaining completely unemployed, particularly if you can’t effectively demonstrate other ways you have remained a productive member of society.

4)     Show that you are a positive, optimistic person who believes they have much to contribute to potential future employers. Even if you have suffered through a certain amount of depression due to unemployment, don’t let that show. The last thing a hiring manager or headhunter is looking for in a candidate is despondency or frustration.

For help with your job search, contact Daley and Associates. We offer superior recruiting and placement results, specializing in auditing and financial placement.

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