If you’re like most people, chances are that someone has told you that it’s easier to find a job when you already have one. That kernel of wisdom has been bandied about for decades, and most people just accepted it without question. Recently, new evidence has seemed to support that belief, as a study was conducted to test those old assumptions. For anyone who’s ever worried about being unemployed for too long, that research offers some interesting insight.
Researching How Being Unemployed Impacts Job Search Success: The Study
The new data points come as the result of a study conducted by two economists from Sweden: Dan-Olof Rooth and Stefan Eriksson. The study was performed by sending out more than 8,000 resumes to apply for more than 3,500 open positions.
(We wrote a good article on how to deal with employment gaps on your resume)
Each of the resumes was a fake, and specifically tailored to list different types of employment status. The imaginary job candidates were either gainfully employed or had been unemployed for several months to more than a year. The results? Let’s review:
Being Unemployed for 3 Months
While being unemployed for 3 months can sometimes seem like an eternity, the research suggests that most job seekers won’t experience and disadvantage from that status. This is apparently especially true for jobs that don’t require a great deal of specialized skills. The biggest surprise came from those low-skill job applications. Apparently, many employers viewed that brief stint of unemployment as a bonus, since those applicants were readily available for immediate work.
Your Outlook When You’ve Been Unemployed for 6 Months
Being unemployed for about six months also didn’t seem to impact the job search much. And again, this was more apparent in low-skill jobs. However, that six months period probably pushes the envelope when it comes to maintaining your chances for an interview. The research results seemed to suggest diminishing odds of success after that first half-year of being unemployed.
How Good Are Your Odds of Finding a Job When You’re Been Unemployed for 9 Months?
Here’s where things get truly interesting. There is a downside to being unemployed for 9 months or more, and that downside encompasses both low and medium-skilled positions. According to the study’s results, once you’ve been unemployed for longer than 9 months, you can expect a significant drop-off in interview requests. The fake resumes sent out by the researchers suffered a 20 percent decline in responsiveness from employers.
However, high-skill jobs didn’t experience that same decline. Some believe that is due to the more complex hiring processes in place at those types of companies.
Being Unemployed for More Than a Year
Unfortunately, there’s no way around this last fact: being unemployed for more than a year can really put a damper on your job prospects. In fact, the research indicated that resumes with a current lengthy period of joblessness experienced little success at landing interviews. There is good news, though. Once you land that first job after being unemployed for a year or more, your future job search prospects improve dramatically.
So How Long is Too Long to Be Unemployed?
Based on the results of the research, the simple answer might be that there’s no such thing as being unemployed for too long. Yes, your odds of landing an interview do decrease as your period of joblessness drags on, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to land a job eventually. Still, your best options are to:
- Find a new job before you’re unemployed; or
- Work diligently to land a new job during the first six months of your unemployment.
Once you’ve gone past that six-month period, you’re likely to see diminishing returns on your job search efforts – unless you’re in a high-skilled profession, of course.
Fortunately, there are things that you can do to increase your odds of landing those critical interviews. One of the most important things you can do is to ensure that your resume is the best that it can be. To learn more about how you can improve your resume to improve your odds, check out our great post on the topic, Improve Your Resume: 7 Tips to Land More Interviews.