Unemployed Man

Credit: laughingsquid.com

In the midst of the recent recession, CBSnews.com put out an article that listed five reasons why companies would not consider hiring the already unemployed. Today it’s still relevant.

One would think, or at least hope, that at this stage of the game most businesses would lighten up their collective dispositions. After all, this woeful economy has been what we’ve all been encumbered with, job or jobless, for the past six years.

But then again, as the most common perception of capitalism would inform, businesses, by definition, are not charity organizations. They want the most out of their buck for the least amount of aggravation.

So what is companies’ mistaken reasoning for not hiring the unemployed?

  • Unemployed = Incompetent. There exists the mindset that when a person loses his or her job, it must be due to their own “bad” work habits. Perhaps it’s so the still-employed can believe that they are not at the mercy of faceless and indiscriminate economy currents.
  • Unemployed = Desperate. The high unemployment rate means thousands of people are trying to get a job; any job. But companies prefer to hire people who want the particular job being offered. One way of filtering out the thousands of applicants: eliminate those who are perceived as desperate; and these are most likely to be the unemployed.
  • Unemployed = Rusty. Skills do deteriorate without use. Some jobs are more skill-heavy than others. Some have higher learning curves than others. Again, with the word “competition” as the major key, and “profitability” as the minor one, most companies rather hire those who need the least amount of start-up time possible.
  • Unemployed = Unqualified. Since hiring the right person for a job is difficult, companies need to use whatever clues, superficial or not, to help them make a decision. To them, not having current employment is akin to missing some true prerequisite, such as a college or high school degree. A shallow rational? Perhaps…but there it is.


Yet I would recommend to companies that they re-evaluate such justifications and reconsider hiring individuals who have been unemployed for a long time.

Many unemployed workers have continued to improve themselves, by volunteering at institutions like public libraries, schools, museums, charity organizations, etc.—even taking on an unpaid internship—while still conducting a job search. After all, though the sincere thanks one would get helping out at any one of the above institutions (all suffering a ‘plenty under the current economy) can be a boon to one’s ego and self-worth, there’s nothing like a company check to really substantiate that the job you are doing is a worthwhile one.

So how can potential employers separate the wheat from the chaff, applicant-wise? They should look for those who have:

  • Ramped up their involvement in professional associations while unemployed.
  • Taken courses or completed a certificate program to keep their skills competitive.
  • Completed an internship or other unpaid experience that earned them experience in a highly relevant area.


And though it may appear a left-handed benefit, employers may find that the long-term unemployed can be gotten at a lesser rate than their more recently employed counterparts.

Yes, it’s a matter of give-and-take for everybody but we all still come out ahead of the game.

My advice to job seekers: When you’ve been out of work for months or years and your interviewer asks you what you’ve been doing in the interim, “looking for work” is not a sufficient answer. You need to be able to discuss specific activities you’ve engaged it that have made you a stronger asset than you were pre-hiatus.