In August 2014, about three million Americans re-entered the labor pool, reigniting their job searches after weeks or months of sitting on the sidelines. The reemergence of these job seekers was enough to bump the unemployment rate up to 6.2 percent from the previous month’s reading of 6.1 percent.

As the economy and job market continue to improve, increased confidence is likely to reignite the job search efforts for more of the 6.2 million people not actively seeking employment but who still want a job, according to employment authority John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.


“Discouraged job seekers are starting to see friends, neighbors and family members find new employment and, as a result, they are regaining some of that lost confidence that caused them to stop looking for work. However, even with an improving employment picture, finding a job will remain challenging, particularly for those who have been out of work for a prolonged period,” said Challenger.

As of July, there were still more than 3.1 million Americans who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That is down from a peak of nearly 6.8 million in April 2010.

These long-time job seekers should be helped by the growing number of job openings nationwide, as well as increased hiring activity. The latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey from the BLS revealed that employers hired 4,830,000 new employees in June, up from 4.4 million the same month a year ago. There were still 2,534,000 job openings at the end of the month.

“For those jumping back into the labor pool and for those who have struggled to find employment for a long time, the key is to change up the strategy. To simply keep doing the same things after months without success is not the way to a new job. If your strategy wasn’t working before, it is not going to start working now,” said Challenger.

“The biggest mistake job seekers make, is taking a passive approach to the job search. Many just sit at the computer all day, searching for online help wanted ads, and sending out electronic resumes. After weeks of this, the natural complaint is, ‘I’ve sent out hundreds of resumes and no one is calling.’ However, this strategy, by itself, is about as effective as playing the lottery,” Challenger continued.

“Not that searching for and applying to online ads should be entirely dismissed. However, it should be just one small part of the job search. The most time and energy is best spent on face-to-face networking. You should be meeting with people every day, even if those people don’t have a job to offer you. What they are likely to offer is advice and, more importantly, connections to other individuals who can further assist you in your job search,” said Challenger.

Challenger provided the following advice to those trying to reignite their job search:

  • Join LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, etal. More companies are searching the Internet for more information about candidates, so create a professional looking page that tells them you are exceptional. With millions of members, these professional and social networking sites are a valuable job-search tool.
  • Remove/Cover tattoos. While body art is becoming more common and more accepted in some offices, many still find it unprofessional.
  • Get involved with community service group. This is a great way to build your network as well as hone your professional skills.
  • Join a professional/trade association. These organizations can provide training and education opportunities and most hold several networking functions every year. The dues are worth their weight in gold if you meet a person at an event who can help you find a new job.
  • Meet 10 new people in your field but outside of your company. Building these relationships may help you in your current position and they will definitely help when you enter the job market.
  • Rev up your skills. Build upon your established skill set. Explore online courses and local certificate programs to broaden your industry knowledge, increasing your marketability to a variety of employers.
  • Stay positive and be patient. Job searches are never easy, but it can be particularly daunting in a downturn economy. By maintaining a positive attitude and exhibiting patience, you can overcome the emotional barriers that could lengthen your search. Even in tough economic times, job opportunities are out there.