You've tried to find a job for more than a year. Your savings are almost wiped out. And if things don't change soon, who knows where you may end up. That's the bleak situation facing many unemployed people these days. But don't despair. Job search experts and career coaches say there are things that people out of work for long periods of time can do to improve their chances of getting hired. Here is some of their advice.
Be active, get involved: Volunteer, do consulting work, get an internship or participate in professional or community groups. You don't want to have large gaps in your resume, said Chad Austin, a job placement officer at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Mich. He particularly recommends volunteering because it shows employers that you "have a commitment to something more than yourself."
Lisa Kurtzhals, program director for the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance, which operates work force development programs, said job seekers need to devise a daily action plan and set clear goals.
Change the way you have been looking for a job: Jean Baur, a career coach in New Jersey and the author of the new job search guide Eliminated! Now What?, said that if you're not getting good results, you shouldn't keep searching for work the same way.
She suggests changing your resume and sending targeted e-mails to hiring managers. Another tip: Make a list of companies you want to work for and use that as a tool to guide your networking efforts.
"You have to search smart," Baur said. "You can't keep going in the same rut."
Ed Kainz, a career coach and licensed professional counselor in Rochester Hills, Mich., said it's important to evaluate yourself, making sure that you know how to interview well and how to network. He urges job seekers to get a copy of the 2011 edition of What Color is Your Parachute?
Get a temporary or contract job: Job search experts say employers are more likely to hire someone who already has a job than someone who is unemployed.
Mark Lancaster, CEO of EmploymentGroup, a staffing and contracted services firm in Battle Creek, Mich., advises talking to several specialty staffing firms, depending on your skills. "It may be below what you want, but if you're working, you're a lot more attractive," Lancaster said.
Learn new skills in fields that are growing: Many positions these days require specialized training, so going back to school is a must. Kainz said it's okay to take a job you don't really want in order to keep paying the bills and get the education you need for your dream job. "Anything worthwhile is not going to happen overnight," he said.
Never give up: This may sound trite, but it's all too easy for people to get discouraged during a lengthy job search and stop looking for work. Support groups for job seekers are available at many churches and Michigan Works! centers.
Unlike the past two years, many employers are now looking to hire workers. Kurtzhals has seen more job openings in fields such as information technology, engineering, health and human services, and accounting.