UI Designer Struggling with Job Search

Q: Several years ago I chose to change careers and become a UI Designer. I absolutely love what I do but I find myself unemployed.

I was laid off over two years ago. I’ve been searching ever since. I’ve had a lot of interviews, but no offers. Potential employers are impressed with my background and portfolio but I never make the conversion.

Everyone knows that the longer you are unemployed the harder it is to get hired. But I’m still getting interest from employers. I’m worried my age is a factor. I’m 41, which may as well be 141 in IT.

I’ve reworked my resume. Talked to recruiters. Networked. Aimed high. And aimed low. And still nothing.

I know I’m good at what I do. How can I get people to look past the gap in my employment, and my age?

A: You have identified a slew of potential concerns, which may or may not be the reason for your continued unemployment. We can’t control your age but we can control how you present yourself and how you run your search.

A few thoughts to consider —
1. Re-look at your resume. Include just years of unemployment and drop the months. For example, if you worked at ABC Company, list the time you spent at ABC at 2010-2013, rather than December, 2010 – January, 2013. By using the years only, the gaps seem less significant.
2. During your period of unemployment, have you volunteered or worked in any consulting roles? If so, you can “fill the gap” with this experience. If you haven’t, think about picking up some consulting work and/or volunteering.
3. Ask recruiters and hiring managers for feedback. Some may share it with you, some may not.
4. Get active on Linkedin. Check email every day, if not more frequently.
5. Network, network, network. Meet at least two contacts per day. Former colleagues, college connections, neighbors, etc. You are not just meeting with that person. You are meeting with that person and their entire network.
6. Spend more time in front of people, less time behind the PC. It is easy to hid behind a PC during a job search, especially if you are introvert.
7. Your full-time job is your job search. No painting patio furniture, no straightening out closets and no watching daytime dramas.
8. Send a thank-you note/email to every person who has met with you, whether for coffee or an interview.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.