The U.S. economy may have escaped a double-dip recession, but millions of workers have not: They’ve experienced a double dip of unemployment.
Last year, almost 4.2 million workers experienced two or more jobless spells, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week. That represents one-fifth of the 20.3 million people who were jobless for part of 2009 and worked part of the year. The numbers are daunting, and they don’t count independent contractors or freelancers who experienced periods without assignments.
Despite a jobless rate hovering near 10 percent, it’s important to remember that nine in 10 workers still have jobs – and that’s where’s the dual-downsized individuals want to aim, said Duncan Mathison, an executive career coach near San Diego, Calif. and co-author of “Unlock the Hidden Job Market.”
Anyone who’s been out of work for six months or longer needs to guard against identifying with jobless individuals as their main community. “We only hang out with outsiders,” said Mathison. “It can be a lot of networking in all the wrong places,” he said, job search groups that offer support and empathy but little that advances the search. Job seekers must refocus their attention and energies to people and groups that may connect to new openings or opportunities.
Try these tips for revving up the search if facing a second bout of unemployment:
- Come up with a list of 200 potential employers who may need skills like yours. You may have to dig deep and include companies far outside of your immediate geographic area, Mathison said. Don’t think about whether the company is hiring now or not. You may narrow the list to 100 better targets – and print out and start showing it to friends and family. Ask for names of individuals “who are actually working and can give you the inside scoop on these organizations,” he said.
- If you’ve been through two or three layoffs, ask yourself about your job search targets. If you’re taking seasonal work, temporary assignments, “pick up assignments” or some sales positions, you are setting yourself up for another dead end and another search, Mathison said. If that bothers you, focus your hunt on other longer-term opportunities.
- Use time off work to your advantage. Almost one third of those who worked and were laid off last year were jobless for 27 weeks or more. So take a class or add volunteer work strategically. Build your n ; add a resume bullet; keep your skills fresh and help a charity too.
- And when you’re looking at the world of work, Mathison suggests you remember one of his favorite thoughts: There’s really only one unemployment number that matters: That’s your own.