Fortunately, there are some options for the long-term unemployed to help turn around their fortunes.

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Good news seems to be popping up all around on the job-search front. According to the latest seasonally adjusted figures from the Employment Security Department (ESD), the state has added an average of 6,900 new jobs each month in the first four months of 2014, dropping the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent. Job growth was up in virtually every work category.

As great as these developments are, they’re still no salve for the estimated 118,000 people across Washington state who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more, aka the “long-term unemployed.” These individuals — who tend to be highly skilled and over 45 — had their extended unemployment benefits cut late last year due to the improving economy.

Fortunately, there are some options for the long-term unemployed to help turn around their fortunes.

Outside help: The ESD has two programs that may be able to give these people some new hope:

  • Gov. Jay Inslee and the ESD recently announced the release of $4 million in grants that could help up to 1,300 long-term unemployed people in the state find work. The funds will be distributed to 12 Workforce Development Councils to support job-readiness workshops, counseling, resume advice, networking clubs, business internships and on-the-job training opportunities.
  • For those who want to chuck the whole idea of working for someone else, the ESD offers the Self-Employment Assistance Program, which provides entrepreneurial training, business counseling and technical assistance to a small group of qualified candidates.

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Inside help: It also may be time to rethink your own strategy. The key is to pinpoint where the problems keeping cropping up.

  • Are you not getting referrals? Perhaps it’s time to broaden your network. Look to other trade groups and associations related to your field.
  • Are you not seeing the right job listings in your field? Maybe a deeper LinkedIn search can reveal connections that could lead you to unadvertised positions. Try targeting your favorite firms, researching their corporate culture and business needs, and asking for some informational interviews.
  • Are you not getting callbacks? Then it’s time to brush up your interviewing skills via a WorkSource seminar or a mock interview with your peers. Also, consider taking courses to hone your skills. Even if you’re a 25-year veteran, it’s good to knock off the rust accrued over these long months without a job. Hiring managers will admire the initiative.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at