My partner was laid off during the peak of the recession (2011) from his job as a technical illustrator. He is currently 50 years old, and still looking for a job in that field. He's literally been applying for jobs every week for 4 years. (If it was me, I would have given up by now, but he doesn't feel like he has the skills or aptitude to work in another field.)
He has only had a few (3-4) interviews in that time, and obviously none of have been successful. He has another interview next week -- for a position doing exactly what he used to do - in fact for a different department of the same large organization he used to work for. He's VERY qualified for this position. BUT...4 years. I'm still surprised he even got the interview.
I think a few things have played into this whole situation:
When he got laid off, NO ONE was hiring for another year or so; and then it picked up rather slowly.
After that year, give or take, he became part of a group that's essentially untouchable - the long-term unemployed. There are very few companies who will even look at the resume of someone who's been unemployed a long time, and even fewer who will take them seriously.
Age discrimination is an illegal but unfortunately very real thing.
Playing into that, graphics and related skills are no longer niche. Everyone has a copy of Photoshop and has created a website, etc. For understandable reasons, most employers would rather hire someone young/inexperienced with - they assume - lower salary requirements. (My partner would take pretty much any salary; but the conversation never gets that far.)
Obviously, I would love nothing more than for my partner to get a job offer and return to work. He's suffering from severe depression, and we're both under a lot of financial stress, as a result of his under-employment**. He's also deeply in debt now to boot. It really feels to me like there's no way out of this hole.
Anyway, my questions are:
What is the best way for him to explain his long employment gap? I really have no idea, but want to give him some good guidance before his interview next week. (I've googled this question, and most people asking it are referring to gaps between 1-2 years. I've yet to see anyone address a gap this long, except for mothers re-entering the workforce.)
What other interview or job searching tips do you have for someone in his position?
Thanks in advance. :)
** He has been working part-time for about 3 years as a checker at a grocery store. It's very unskilled and unrelated to his field; and he doesn't list it on his resume (maybe he should?) but he always lists it on applications that ask for a job history. He does have business cards as a freelancer, and freelance artist is listed on his resume; but to be honest, he hasn't had any freelance jobs since he was laid off. I'm not really sure it makes sense to have that on there, since he won't have anything to show if he gets asked about it.