How to Transition Back into the Workforce After a Long Period of Unemployment

Career Fair

Recently, a reader said that while my blog is helpful, that she would rather me have more tips and posts on those who have had a long period of unemployment. Then all of a sudden I received an e-mail from One Smart Dollar who said that they wanted to guest post and had some general ideas for a topic. What was one of those topics? It was THIS ONE! What great timing right?

This is a guest post from Scott Sery, a freelance writer, who writes for One Smart Dollar.  When not talking about money he enjoys passing on his knowledge of the back country in Montana and how to live sustainably.  Follow them on Twitter at @OneSmartDollar.

At least one time during most people’s working career they will find themselves unemployed. Whether it’s due to company cutbacks and workers layoffs, or due to the employee being fired, these normally hard working people find themselves forced into job hunting.

While there are plenty of jobs out there, not every job is suited to every person. So, rather than settle for something that is beneath their skill level, or a menial job that would do more damage to their self esteem than it is worth, they collect unemployment. They do this as they keep looking for the job for which they are trained. Many times that looking period is long; often lasting a year or more. When something finally does come along, they often find that the transition from unemployed to working is a lot harder than the transition from working to unemployed.

When a company first acknowledges your résumé and grants you an interview, you will be bombarded with emotions. First, overwhelming joy that you actually have a chance to re-enter the workforce will flood you. Then, that joy will be replaced with anxiety, fear, and doubt. The “what-ifs” creep in. You know those nagging questions: what if I don’t get the job, what if I get laid off again, what if I bomb the interview?  Take a deep breath, and take it one step at a time.

Here are my tips to transition back into work after being unemployed:


Prepare Your Image When Transitioning Back Into The Workforce After a Long Period of Unemployment.

Ideally, you would have already been getting up and starting each day as though you were getting ready for work. This means waking up early, showering and dressing as though you were going to head to the office, and then using at least a few hours per day researching jobs. If you have not been keeping up on your image, get yourself back there quickly.


Prepare Your Knowledge When Transitioning Back Into The Workforce After a Long Period of Unemployment.

You need to know the ins and outs of the company before your interview.  One of the top mistakes people make is walking into an interview without doing any research first.  You should know everything you possibly can about the company. And then take some time to learn about common interview questions.  The more you have studied, the more confidence you will exude during your interview. You’ll find the more confidence you exude, the more likely you are to land the job.


Prepare Your Network

This step comes after you nail the interview and land the job. In fact, the number one reason people do not get the job after an interview is because they don’t ask for it. If you feel you aced the interview, a simple question to ask is, “So when do I start?”  At that moment you can start building a relationship with your future co-workers. You will want to know who to turn to for inevitable questions that will arise.


Prepare Your Skills

Many times, there is still that lingering doubt that you won’t cut it at this job either. Get rid of all doubt by making yourself an invaluable asset to the company. Work hard to do more than what is required of you. Seek out new assignments and tasks. Take initiative without being asked. Show that you care, and that you want to do a good job, so if lay-offs come along again your name won’t even make that list.


Final Thoughts

Unemployment is tough. It wreaks havoc on our emotions and feelings of self worth. Those feelings do not disappear when transitioning back into the workforce. The key is to recognize them, and make sure they work for you and not against you. If you have found yourself out of a job for a while, now is the time to buckle down and become more competitive.

Have you ever had to deal with a long period of unemployment? What did or would you do?


Photo Credit:


  1. myfijourney says

    Being unemployed is a constant worry of mine. One piece of advice that I've heard before it to try to work (or create the appearance of work) in your field while you're laid off. Maybe volunteer, maybe freelance (even if you never get a client you can say you were freelancing), maybe become a social media personality in your field. The point is to show employers that your skill and interest hasn't declined.
    My recent post A Brief Primer on Dividend Growth Stocks Part 2: Basic stock screening

  2. says

    One of my biggest concerns is becoming unemployed, especially now that my wife is off work on maternity leave as is it leaves me as the only bread winner for at least the next 10 months.
    On the plus side we have been good little savers and can survive for a fairly long time without any income coming in :)
    My recent post Top Personal Finance Articles #6

  3. plantingourpennies says

    Mr. PoP freelanced for about a year, but it was definitely by choice, which I think changes the dynamic a bit. He wanted freedom to be able to travel more and he did! Now he's been back to the regular corporate world for a couple of years and we're both itching for the next 5-6 years to go well so we can afford to step back and become permanent freelancers/early retirees and really make travel a lifestyle.
    My recent post Monthly Subscriptions – Love to Hate Them

  4. mycanuckbuck says

    Yes – I was off for 7 months. And I hadn't really looked for a job for 10 years! The best thing I did was write out answers to common interview questions and practice them – that really helped me when I got interviews!
    My recent post Why you should always file your taxes

  5. says

    I`m worried about not getting a job soon enough after I graduate, because I`m only educated to teach English, but when I look at jobs they often want teachers to teach 3-4 subjects! So I`m a bit worried about the future, even if it is a year until I`ve finished my teacher`s training… being unemployed is definitely a big fear of mine!!
    My recent post Dreamy Raspberry & Hazelnut Cake

  6. says

    Great article. I think you have some great pointers on how to survive unemployment. Being unemployed has always been a fear of mine.
    My recent post Are We the "Lazy" Generation?

  7. kimateyesonthedollar says

    I certainly hope this isn't a problem I have to face, but I think a positive attitude and staying proactive are vital. While it might seem normal to mourn the loss of a job, that really doesn't help find a new one. Having a plan is a great first step.
    My recent post How Much Time Would You Invest for $2.50?

  8. brickbybrickinvesting2012 says

    My wife is currently a stay at home mom so she is facing a long stint of unemployment but will eventually go back into the job market. It would be lovely if she had her own website or freelanced, but she doesn't love blogging the way I do. These are some very insightful tips, thank you.
    My recent post How Poker Made Me A Better Investor

  9. says

    I think that people forget a very easy way to keep their skills current and keep them connected with others while staying connected to others: volunteering. Becoming a regular volunteer at an organization that provides a multitude of opportunities to develop organizational skills, do programming, and grow your network. The great thing about volunteering is that you can get a lot of bang for your buck without obligating yourself to too many hours each week. I've known people who were unemployed for long periods of time and it was a struggle for them to stay hopeful and somewhat happy when they weren't doing something outside of the home. Great post.

  10. Jose says

    It's looking good for my period of unemployment. The odds are pretty high that I will have a job offer by this coming Friday. So three weeks isn't really that long but I appreciate your post and it's advice anyway! :) It's a good post with excellent suggestions that fit right into the current day to day environment!
    My recent post The Wise Dollar Three Month Birthday

  11. Carrie says

    I have dealt with being unemployed for 9 months which was way too long for me not to be working. I found a couple of days after that… I got tired of busting my butt for minimum wage or close to it so I decided to open my own business. It's the best decision I ever made.
    My recent post Shine Bright Like a Diamond!

  12. says

    I’ve been unlucky enough to umemployed twice. The first time was right after university. I was more focused on my backpacking Euro Trip, rather than looking for jobs prior to graduation. It took me 6 months to find my first job.

    The second situation was when I quit my 2nd job for personal reasons. This was during the recession. I was unemployed for a month and a half, then got a job in retail.

    It was extremely hard to stay positive since I am not a positive person naturally. What helped me get by was having my part time job and having the bf listen to my constant complaining. :)
    MakintheBacon$ recently posted..The Only Reason I May Want ChildrenMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge