Unemployed & Discouraged. Need Resume Advice

Ok, so I’ve been unemployed a long time. Six years in June. I spent the time raising my daughter and just being a mom. I didn’t have to have a job during that time but kind of just applied here and there for things that seemed like they would work but never was seriously looking. Within the past four months, I’ve really gotten serious about it. At first, I couldn’t even find anything to apply for. My job history is pretty much entirely clerical/customer service. I checked the local papers, Craigslist and various job sites and found very few jobs that I was qualified for. Well, at the turn of the new year, I discovered my state’s government jobs website. Suddenly I had tons of things I felt I was qualified for. Over the past month, I’ve submitted over 20 applications, more than I’ve sent out over the previous three months. I thought that surely I’d at least get an interview.

So far, not a thing. About a third of the jobs I applied for have sent me “we’re sorry, but we have selected a more qualified applicant” letters and the rest are just sitting in limbo. I’m starting to get really discouraged and I know that my huge unemployment gap is a big issue but I know I’m qualified for these jobs. I’m beginning to wonder if my resume is just horrible. Could I get some feedback or tips to possibly help my chances?

For my objective, I’ve written “After taking an extended time off from working to raise a family, I am ready to return to the work force. My objective is to obtain a position in which I am challenged and able to use my skills to their fullest.” I felt this was the best place to explain the large gap of unemployment. The rest is not stellar, but I’ve never been good with the ‘objective’ part of a resume.

One thing I’ve been debating doing is altering my job history. Not lying, but…removing parts. I had a period of about 2 years where I was attending a technical college, which is listed on my resume. But also during that time, I did a few short term jobs that really don’t add anything to my skills. I was considering just removing them and explaining that period of unemployment as attending school. Would it be more beneficial to have 2 years of unemployment due to college or to have a couple of short term jobs listed where I worked mostly in retail?

I really appreciate any feedback. I’m really starting to get super discouraged and it’s not helping with my depression. I feel like I’m never going to get a job and the longer I go without finding one, the harder it’s going to get.

For every job you’re applying for, the company is probably also getting an additional 200 resumes.

Not to be a party-pooper, but networking and having friends or relatives help you out is the key to finding a job such as yours.

You may never again find a job by just sitting back and applying on-line, unless you have very specific skills that are hard to recruit.

Again, not trying to be a party-pooper but this is the new reality; find a job through networking or sit back and prepare to be disappointed.

The objective language sounds good to me, and time off for college instead of a bunch of jobs sounds good to me too. Keep plugging away, it’s a jungle out there.

I assumed that applying for a government job was going to make things harder on me but I just hoped I’d get a little something encouraging.

And I understand what you’re saying, but I really don’t have much of a network. I have no friends, and all my relatives work in menial positions with no way of helping me get a foot in the door. I’m trying to get some volunteering under my belt to hopefully help me get some sort of ‘network’ going, but it’s slow going.

From what I’ve seen, though, networking is not the sparkly magic panacea a lot of people seem to think it is.

It may be important. It may be the best way. Hell, it may be the ONLY way. But remember it’s no guarantee. You’ve probably figured this out long before this, but I wanted to counteract some of the “ohmigod do this and you’ll get a job for sure” attitude I see out there sometimes.

I’d suggest looking at companies in your area. Note corporate names in industrial parks, etc. Then research these companies up online. My company doesn’t advertise, as far as I know - they have a reasonably well-hidden “Careers” section on their website. Look of C/S and A/R or A/P jobs - these are often entry-level jobs.

If you have a great deal of patience for BS, you can try C/S for the big cell companies. Places like Verizon and T Mobile often have regional offices. Hard work, though. Customers are often unpleasant.

Good luck!


I loved it when I got laid off 5 years ago. Unfortunately I used my free time to take some courses and get licensed for a skill that is actually in demand in my area, and haven’t had a day off since.

Sign on with some temp agencies. You’ll get work, even if it’s beneath what you’re hoping for, and you’ll get a foot in the door.

See if your local Goodwill Industries has a Job Connection career guidance center. I’m serious. I thought they just sold old dresses and broken TVs but my local one has an enormous amount of services from resume writing to computer classes, practice job interviews and aptitude testing. All free.

Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette

Do some volunteer work that gives you something useful, relevant and current to put on your resume. No need to mention that it’s a volunteer position until you’re in the interview, but be sure to do so.

Change your Objective statements. That verboseness belongs on a cover letter. No need to mention the long break there - the dates on your resume will show that. Keep your resume brief and “punchy”, summarizing your experience, skills and work history. That’s what I want to scan when evaluating an applicant. If the skills and experience intrigue me, I’ll then bother to read the cover letter to see how the applicant presents him/herself and what they highlight and explain about their experience.

**StGermain **, yeah I’ve actually tried applying at the T-Mobile center nearby and got nothing. I live in a pretty rural area and the big cities are 1-2 hours away with good traffic, so I can’t really look too far off. It wouldn’t make any sense to commute 2-4 hours a day and spend hundreds on gas for a minimum wage job. Add on top of that the extra money for daycare.

needscoffee, that’s something I’ve definitely considered. The problem is, it’s hard to be on call when you have to arrange babysitting for a young child. I might talk to my relatives and see if maybe we can work something out if I would need last minute babysitting.

**Nunzio Tavulari **, I’ve heard of Goodwill Job Connection. They have an ad in the paper every week, but I just assumed they were like menial jobs that didn’t pay a living wage. That’s my biggest problem right now. Finding something that will pay me enough that my daughter and I can survive on that income alone. I know it’s seriously restricting my options, but I can’t survive on minimum wage.

Skip the “objective” completely. That stuff can all go in a cover letter. Don’t emphasize that you’re a Mom - some jerk employers may toss your resume aside thinking you’d take a lot of time off because kids get sick a lot.

Look carefully at the words used in the description of the jobs you’re applying for, and try to incorporate them into your resume. Tweak your resume a little for every new job you apply to, if the descriptions are very different. If the job says “classifying” and your resume says “sorting”, then change it to match (within reason). Sometimes resumes are searched for key words before being looked at by a person.

I wouldn’t list the short-term jobs unless they were relevant to the position you’re applying to. If you apply for a phone job, keep the other phone jobs on the resume but drop the three months you worked at the Gap, for example. I’ve learned that changing the resume to aim it directly at the job you’re applying to is very helpful in getting an interview. Don’t lie!! Never ever lie! But choose your words carefully and toss out anything that isn’t relevant.

Good luck.

AngelSoft, could you possibly commit to a minimum wage job for a year and then graduate to something better? Maybe continue to live with your folks during that time and save your earnings?

You may like a minwage job, find that you’re really good at it, and then be promoted. Not all minimum wage jobs are horrible, and many are good launching pads to something bigger.

Just something to think about.

AngelSoft - Where do you expect the jobs to be? I’m not trying to be snarky, just realistic. If you live in the middle of nowhere (like me) you’re going to have to commute somewhere. I live on a small farm in Tennessee and drive 35 miles to my job. Even when I was between real jobs I drove 20 miles to the nearest Target to do stocking at night. There was a $.50 shift differential but I worked from Midnight or 3 am until everything was put away.

In my company, which isn’t in Nashville, but about 30 minutes from town, the C/S and A/R jobs start at $13-$15/hr.

You’re going to have to figure out the transportation/childcare thing. It sounds like you’re hoping the ideal job just opens up in your neighborhood, but you don’t have a neighborhood. There aren’t many work-from-home jobs out there.


I’ve been out since late September. I’ve had one face to face interview w/ a non-temp agency. Maybe 2 other phone interviews. I have a great work history (7 years then 5 years), just not much in specific marketable skills (such as a specific software or common industry). I’m in a relatively big metro area (3rd most miserable city) but there aren’t any jobs (Temp or advertised).

I’m in my mid 40’s and I really think I may be screwed. A friend is paying $2500 to train to become a CNC machinist, I could do that but I know I’d be more than miserable. I’m good financially until the end of May. My wife has got a great job that may be enough to cover us when I run out of money.

I’m going to the local stadium next week and see if I can work there part-time over baseball season, that would at least cover my mortgage. When I lost this job I came on this message board and said “WooHoo” (it was a miserable, soul sucking job) but I didn’t think it would be this bad out here. I’m out of ideas other than keeping my nose to the grindstone and hoping I still have a sense of smell when I’m done.

Try a Skill-Based resume format instead of the chronological one. This will highlight what you can do and minimize any employment gaps. There is no need to hide the fact you took time off to raise a family, I think that is pretty common these days and should not count against you. However, it is not something you necessarily want to emphasize. Put the focus on your skill-set and what you can offer.

A lot of other good advice here as well (ineffectiveness of jobs boards, networking, volunteering). There is no silver bullet here, but a flexible plan using several strategies will give you a good chance.

**Antigen **and snowthx, thank you for the resume advice. As far as the objective, all the government jobs I’m applying for require it, but I can definitely see about getting it out of my resume. And thanks for the link about making a Skill Based resume. I’ll look into that a bit better and see if I can work my resume into it!

monstro, I might have to. I really don’t want to, especially since I don’t want another ‘useless’ job on my resume but it might not be as damaging for me than a 6 year hiatus.

StGermain, no you’re not coming off as snarky, I get what you’re saying. I’m definitely looking in Salem, which is about an hour away, but the really big city (Portland is almost 2 hours in good traffic. So unless a job pays REALLY well, it’s not worth the commute. I am willing to travel, but just not for minimum wage. I know from experience, even driving to the nearby small town (30 minutes) four times a week was using up $300 in gas for me. I would double that or more driving to Salem five days a week. Almost half of my income a month would go towards gas at minimum wage.

Also, while I was out grocery shopping today, I stopped by the Goodwill Job Connection. They had me fill out a form and then told me to pick some jobs they had posted on the wall. I found a few, but most were ones I wasn’t qualified for. When I handed them the papers, they just photocopied them and said to give them a call if I got a job. Not sure how that’s supposed to be helpful but I guess I got a couple more jobs to apply for? It’s something I guess.

How about temping for a year. It will give you a work history and maybe turn into something full time.

FWIW I sent 1043 resumes out before I got a job from 1044. It took 14 months.

In a previous thread (and subsequently, elsewhere on the net) it was made clear to me that skill based resumes are no longer a good idea for anyone.

Even when they were kind of a good idea for some people in some situations, they were a risk. Lots of hiring types simply ignore them.