Tips for getting back into the workforce after unemployment

Shakopee resident Susan Angell, center, networks with potential employers and other job seekers on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, during a Christmas party for people who are unemployed at Grace Church in Eden Prairie. Angell was laid off in May from her job as an optical lab tech, so she returned to school to study information technology. She was there with her husband, Jeremy Angell, right.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Job seekers who took a break because things were so tough out there have some reasons to be optimistic. The United States added 195,000 jobs in June, and Labor Department analysts readjusted April and May's job gains upwards. The Federal Reserve is estimating that we could be down to a 7 percent unemployment rate by the middle of 2014.

As jobs open up, Amy Lindgren, president of Prototype Career Services and author of the "Working Strategies" column for the Pioneer Press, joins The Daily Circuit to discuss what discouraged job seekers can do to find their way back into the workforce.


• If you're still trying to find a job in your career path, an interim job is OK. "An interim job usually pays less than your regular work," writes Lindgren. "Hence, it shouldn't involve a long or difficult commute. Unless you live in a rural setting, consider five miles from your home to be your optimum hunting grounds."

• If you're working an interim job, make time for job searching. "You'll also need to allocate 15 to 20 hours a week to finding your main job," says Lindgren. "For these reasons, optimum interim job schedules often include early mornings or evenings."

• Rebuild your confidence. Anne Walsh, a New York City-based executive coach, tells Fortune: "One way to get your confidence back is to 'identify what's important to you at this point in your life. What is your purpose? Once you establish a goal and an overarching sense of what you want this stage of your career to look like, you can move on to the practical task of pinpointing which special aptitudes and skills you've developed — either before you left the workforce or in the years since then — that employers might want.'"

• Define your ideal job to help focus your search. "Suppose you want $50,000, a short commute and work that is very social in nature," Lindgren writes. "In this case I would start with the commute and ask: How short? Then I would advise listing every company, large and small, within that domain. Next, we would compare that list against your skill set to see what you could do for each employer that fits your other two criteria."

• Develop new skills and stay current on your field. "Psychologist Brown and other experts say that reading industry trade publications and taking classes during a prolonged period of unemployment will help job seekers stay current in their technical skills and the practices of their profession," writes Debra Donston-Miller for The Ladder. "This will help mitigate gaps in employees' work histories, letting potential employers see that they have made the effort to stay abreast, and will lead to an easier re-entry into the workforce once an offer is made. Volunteering, in your industry or within your area of expertise in another industry, is another way to ease the transition back into full-time employment."

• Put a lot of your effort into networking. "The most crucial message to deliver when you're re-entering the workforce is how you are champing at the bit to return to work," writes Susan Adams for Forbes. "Your particular level of enthusiasm will set you aside from everyone else in the networking crowd. Yes, you've taken a break from work, but it has made you all the more eager to attack a new opportunity with vigor."

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.