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Unemployed for a While? Address it in the Interview the Right Way

Too often, job-seekers struggle to explain long-term gaps in employment during an interview. For many, this leads to a loss in confidence, and rejection after rejection. Although workers are unemployed for many valid reasons, a long bout of unemployment often raises concerns from a hiring manager.

You’re not imagining it: Research shows that there’s a hiring bias against unemployed applicants and it becomes more severe the longer a person is jobless. Hiring managers point to the risks of hiring an unemployed candidate. Some misconceptions include desperation, and thinking they’ll take your position even if it’s not an ideal fit. Or, they don’t plan to stay in the position for long. Worse, if you hire them, they’ll become a “problem” employee. And if they have been out of the workplace for an extended period, their skills may not be up to date.

Worse yet, long-term unemployment can have a terrible psychological effect on a job applicant, leading to a loss of confidence in an interview — making it that much harder to find a job. That said, if you’ve been unemployed for a while, it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. Here are some ways to address your employment gap in your next interview.

Be upfront about why you are unemployed.

You’re far better off explaining the reason why you are unemployed with honesty. Today’s hiring managers understand that people are unemployed for many reasons, from layoffs to taking the time to care for children, to exploring a different career direction. Even if you were fired from your last job, be direct and to the point about the reason. Quickly move on to explain why you are the best candidate for the job.

Discuss any volunteer work you did while unemployed.

Companies look carefully at how unemployed job seekers have spent their time. Expect that your interviewer will ask “What were you doing at the time?” Talk about any volunteer or freelance work you’ve done. Did you organize a block club meeting? Did you drive senior citizens to appointments? Are you an active church volunteer? Compile an inventory of everything you did while unemployed, and be ready to bring it up during the interview.

Talk about the reasons you want to return to the workforce.

Again, be honest about your reasons. You may be surprised to learn that the hiring manager has gone through the same experience and appreciates your honesty. Since much of the interview process is about ensuring a good fit, being upfront builds rapport and trust. Chances are if the hiring manager relates to you, you have a good shot at landing the job.

If you’re ready to return to the workforce and you need help finding the right position, turn to Nesco Resource. Search our national jobs database today.


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