Three types of unemployment, three different job-search strategies.

There may be no worse feeling than being unemployed — rummaging through job listings, writing and rewriting your resume, feelings of panic and insecurity — the list goes on. But did you know that there are different types of unemployment?

You may be asking yourself, “Why does it matter what kind of unemployment I fall under? I just want a new job.” We get it, but don't write off the lesson too quickly. Your type of unemployment can determine what steps you need to take in your job search. Whether structural, cyclical, or frictional unemployment, understanding your unemployment is key to a faster, more effective job search.

1. Structural unemployment

Structural unemployment occurs when there is a disconnect between the skills you have and the skills needed by employers. For example, if you are an experienced professional in automotive manufacturing, the rise of automation could mean that your skills become obsolete. The resulting unemployment would be considered structural — having to do with the structure of your industry.

When facing structural unemployment, the key to a successful job search is further education and skill-building. After all, looking for a job with the same skill set that's been rendered obsolete won't get you anywhere. Instead, invest time in online courses and attend events that can help you learn more about where your industry is going so you can go along for the ride.

If you're not sure what path to take, reach out to your network — there will surely be others in your industry who were faced with the same challenge and came out ahead. Conduct informational interviews with them to learn from their actions what you may need to do for your own job search.

2. Cyclical unemployment

Cyclical unemployment has to do with the upward and downward swings of the economy — its cycle, if you will. Think back to the Great Recession of 2008: The weak economy led to mass layoffs, which put professionals into cyclical unemployment.

This type of unemployment is particularly challenging to navigate because the ball is barely, if at all, in your court. Hiring rates dip — even stall completely — during an economic downturn. Thus, rather than put your every waking moment into your job search, it's wise to devote time to ways you can stay afloat until the job market improves. Brainstorm how your skill set can lead to freelance or consultant work. You can even try to pick up a side gig or two while you wait for the storm to pass.

3. Frictional unemployment

Simply put, frictional unemployment is the time between one job and another under normal circumstances. Rather than industry movement deeming your skills obsolete or a weak economy forcing layoffs, frictional unemployment does not reflect any kind of large-scale changes. It doesn't matter if you quit or were fired, and it also includes professionals who have left the workforce for other non-work pursuits like caring for a loved one or going back to school. It's just you, your old job, and your next job.

A positive of frictional unemployment is that it puts the most in the hands of the working professional. Here, you can treat your hunt like a standard job search — scouring job boards, writing standout resumes, creating well-crafted cover letters, practicing your interview skills, etc. These collections of resume and job-search advice is a great starting point during this search.

Back in the game

They say knowledge is power, and that goes for all aspects of your job search. Understanding your type of unemployment can help you focus your energy in the directions that are most productive for your job search. Unemployment is scary, but it's not the end; take these tips into account and you'll be back in the game in no time.

One way to stay productive while unemployed is to update your resume. Find out how you can improve yours with a free resume critique.

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