Five Common Misconceptions About The Unemployed
By Sabrina Baker, PHR
Human Resource Consultant and Recruiter

In the past...
Five Common Misconceptions About The Unemployed
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They are unemployed through some fault of their own.
Misconception:
Wor...
Five Common Misconceptions About The Unemployed
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Reality:
The simple truth is that in most industries things do not chang...
Five Common Misconceptions About The Unemployed
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Overcoming:
If an individual has the background, skills and abilities ne...
Five Common Misconceptions About The Unemployed
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Reality:
The same truth about the "they do not want to work" misconcepti...
Five Common Misconceptions About The Unemployed
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Acacia HR Solutions is a Human Resource consultancy and recruiting firm ...
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Five Misconceptions About The Unemployed

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Five Misconceptions About The Unemployed

  1. 1. Five Common Misconceptions About The Unemployed By Sabrina Baker, PHR Human Resource Consultant and Recruiter In the past few years more Americans than ever before have experienced job loss. Prior to 2008, the unemployment rate remained between four and six percent. Since 2008, that rate has seen months of nine and ten percent and now hovers around the eight percent mark. Large amounts of layoffs combined with a decrease in new hiring results in long term unemployment for many individuals. Current reports indicate that over forty-five percent of individuals receiving unemployment benefits have been unemployed for twentyseven weeks or more. As employers across the nation begin to rebuild their business and bring on new staff, they are bound to be faced with candidates who have been unemployed for a considerable amount of time. Many misconceptions exist about these individuals and some employers have even included clauses in their job postings that the unemployed should not apply. This paper identifies five common misconceptions that employers often make regarding the unemployed. It outlines why the misconceptions are often false and how companies can overcome these misconceptions with their hiring staff. This list was compiled through shared experiences with job seekers and working through recruitment initiatives with companies. The five common misconceptions are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. They are unemployed through some fault of their own. Their skills are out of date or no longer relevant. They do not want to work. They just want a job. They are not motivated. Acacia HR Solutions www.acaciahrsolutions.com
  2. 2. Five Common Misconceptions About The Unemployed 2 They are unemployed through some fault of their own. Misconception: Workers who are laid-off or let go for any reason are always the lowest performers. Reality: It is true that in typical lay-off or reduction in force situations, employers use performance as one indicator to determine individuals who will be let go. However, what employers have faced in the past several years has been anything but typical. Entire departments or even companies were eliminated. Services were sent overseas reducing the need for literally hundreds and, in extreme cases, thousands of workers. In these cases, both highperformers and low-performers experienced the same fate. Employees at all levels from executives to maintenance were impacted. In cases where cost savings was the driving force for the layoffs, higher performing individuals may have been impacted over lower performing ones. Additionally, thousands of Americans who had worked for one individual company for most of their career were given the option of buy-out or early retirement packages. Again, this was not because of performance, but for cost savings. Overcoming: It is important for employers to consider the past work history. If an individual worked for the same company for thirty years and was then laid-off it was likely part of a bigger reduction in force and not due to performance. Recruiters and/or hiring managers should seek to understand from the candidate what happened that led to the departure. Probing into work history leading up to and just before the lay-off will help better understand if there were underlying performance issues. Their skills are out of date or are no longer relevant. Misconception: When a person is not practicing job duties every day, skills are lost. Further, so many things change quickly that candidates who have been out of work for long periods of time would not be up to speed on new changes. Acacia HR Solutions www.acaciahrsolutions.com
  3. 3. Five Common Misconceptions About The Unemployed 3 Reality: The simple truth is that in most industries things do not change that much. Even in industries where things do change or new practices are always emerging (software for example), job seekers have done what is necessary to ensure they have kept their skills sharp. They have immersed themselves in industry reading and online networking groups (such as those found on Linkedin) to ensure they are aware of any new trends. Many have gone back to school to either study their current industry further or learn a new skill altogether. In reality, they are probably more versed in current trends and skills than some company's current employees. Overcoming: Employers who have doubts about skill relevance only have to ask the question and allow the candidate to explain what they have been doing to keep their skills sharp. Questions surrounding current trends or exact skills should make an employer feel comfortable with where the job seeker's skillset lies. They do not want to work. Misconception: Job seekers who have been unemployed for long periods of time must not want to work or they would have found a job already. Another common thought is that the long term unemployed only look for jobs to satisfy the job search requirements necessary to collect unemployment. Reality: Revisiting the unemployment numbers and amount of new jobs added in the last several years should allow simple math to disqualify this misconception. There are many more unemployed workers than there are open positions. With so much competition for each open job many job seekers face rejection after rejection and yet keep looking for work. As for the idea that satisfying unemployment benefit requirements is the reason for applying for jobs, the system itself debunks this idea. Unemployment benefits are typically not sufficient to provide complete income replacement. They also do not provide medical benefits which so many Americans want and need. Finally, no individual can be on unemployment benefits for an unending amount of time. Acacia HR Solutions www.acaciahrsolutions.com
  4. 4. Five Common Misconceptions About The Unemployed 4 Overcoming: If an individual has the background, skills and abilities necessary to do the job as indicated on their resume, chances are very good that they are interested and do want to work. Employers will be able to tell after a few simple questions whether an individual is really interested in the position or was just trying to meet a requirement. They just want a job. Misconception: The long term unemployed are desperate and will take any job just to get them working again. For individuals who are overqualified for the position they are hiring for, the misconception is that they are just looking for anything to hold them over until they find exactly what they want and will then leave. Reality: Job seekers want to find a position where they will be happy, engaged and challenged. While financial strains can make individuals pursue opportunities that they otherwise would not have pursued; most job seekers focus their efforts on jobs that they can thrive in. Once an individual has gone through a period of long term unemployment they are determined to find a company they can grow with and hopefully not repeat this season in their life. Overqualified job seekers realize that hiring at the top level for most companies happens internally through promotions. They understand that they may have to take a step back to get back and work their way back into the appropriate level and are willing to do so. Overcoming: Questions focused on why a candidate wants this particular job, how they see themselves growing in the role and what keeps them challenged can ensure the hiring manger feels comfortable that they are interested in this job and not just any job. They are not motivated. Misconception: Job seekers who have been unemployed for long periods of time must not be motivated to find a job. Also, they have become accustomed to the more laid back lifestyle that unemployment offers and are not really motivated to work. Acacia HR Solutions www.acaciahrsolutions.com
  5. 5. Five Common Misconceptions About The Unemployed 5 Reality: The same truth about the "they do not want to work" misconception applies here. The long term unemployed have been looking for work, but competition and less available jobs have made that process harder and longer. As for the laid back lifestyle, many job seekers have taken on extra responsibility at home or with their families to save on cost. This could mean keeping the children home instead of daycare, helping take care of elderly or ill family members and handling the bulk of the household chores. In addition, they volunteer and spend time networking to aide in their job search. They are often as busy or busier than when they were working and are not enjoying a laid back lifestyle. Overcoming: Asking about motivation and tapping into body language can help an interviewer understand how interested a candidate truly is. Without probing too much into personal details, asking candidates about activities they are involved in will help the interviewer understand how different their current lifestyle will be from a working one. Conclusion Believing misconceptions without trying to understand the truth can cripple the recruitment process. Companies who subscribe to such beliefs may be missing out on top talent. It is the responsibility of every employer to treat each candidate fairly and consistently. Any employer who immediately discounts an application or resume based on length of unemployment alone may be considered in violation of laws very soon. In many states there are proposals making such practices illegal. Each application or resume that passes through an employer's database should be evaluated on equal criteria which do not include current employment status. If a candidate has the skills and abilities to do the job, they should be considered. A thorough interview can uncover the truth about many of the misconceptions listed above. Rather than assuming that an unemployed candidate is not motivated or has lost their ability to do the job, have a conversation and ask as many questions as necessary to feel comfortable that their length of unemployment has not affected their ability to do the work. Acacia HR Solutions www.acaciahrsolutions.com
  6. 6. Five Common Misconceptions About The Unemployed 6 Acacia HR Solutions is a Human Resource consultancy and recruiting firm offering services which span the full employee life cycle. Sabrina Baker, PHR, founded the firm after experiencing her own lay off in 2010. She brings over 12 years of experience in corporate human resources and recruiting. Sending time on both sides of the unemployment line has made her very passionate about bridging the gap between job seekers and employers looking for skilled talent. The main services Acacia HR Solutions offers are broken out into two categories. Recruitment On a contingency or retained basis, Acacia HR Solutions used the most advanced techniques to find the right candidate for your open role. To further motivate companies to look at the unemployed a little differently, Acacia HR Solutions revised its recruiting fees in 2011 to offer two for one placement. When a candidate is placed with a firm who was unemployed at the time of placement, we will place your next candidate for free. Human Resource Consulting We work with small business that may not have a full time HR staff or with businesses that need to supplement the experience of their HR staff. We have the ability to cover many areas of human resources from handbook creation to training and development. With a distinct expertise in international human resources, Acacia HR Solutions helps companies create a people strategy around their international endeavors. sabrina@acaciahrsolutions.com 847.893.9756 Acacia HR Solutions www.acaciahrsolutions.com

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