Not long ago, I considered myself among the ranks of the long-term unemployed. Not only was the economy working against me, I’d taken a decade-long hiatus from the workforce to stay home with my children. In the two years that I was unemployed, I learned about job searches both as a seeker and as a volunteer for a program which taught such skills to immigrants. Here is what I learned:
1) Build your professional network. If you don’t know where to start, start by volunteering. If you are unemployed, you hear this all the time, because it is true. I am employed thanks to woman who liked my volunteer work and assured her organization that I could learn what I didn’t already know.
2) Practice telling a half-dozen stories about yourself and experiences that you have enjoyed. At the very least, write some down. When the right position comes along, you won’t have to figure out how to sell yourself. It will come naturally.
3) Don’t BS the weaknesses question. Instead, look for positions that could reasonably value just one of your weaknesses. There are jobs like that. I had one employer tell me that I needed to work on collaboration. “You just go into your office, and work, and we don’t see you for days,” she said. That sounded good to the next employer, who really needed someone to work alone! So, tell the truth. Don’t sell yourself short by making a strength sound weak.