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Long-Term Unemployed Face Hurdles

CHICAGO (UPI) — Job seekers who have been unemployed long-term can be perceived as unemployable, making it even harder to find work, an employment firm based in Chicago said.

John Challenger, chief executive officer of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said employers view candidates who have been out of work for six months or more as behind on current skills or perhaps lacking a strong work ethic.

“For long-term job seekers who make it beyond the initial screening process, there is the challenge of addressing the significant gap in experience with the person conducting the interview. The interviewer is going to wonder why you have not been hired and whether your skills or work ethic have deteriorated,” Challenger said.

U.S. Labor Department statistics show 6.7 million U.S. workers were listed as unemployed for 27 weeks or longer in April 2010, a post-recession peak. That has dropped to 4.6 million, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

While the drop is substantial in the aggregate, those viewed as long-term unemployed still make up 40 percent of the 11.7 million people out of work. At its April 2010 peak, long-term unemployed made up 45 percent of the nation’s unemployed.

Challenger said staying connected “to one’s professional and personal network is critical.”

It increases the chances of being in the right place, at the right time, when one of these hidden opportunities arise,” he said, referring to jobs that do not appear in wanted ads.

Only 20 percent of job openings are listed, Challenger said.

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