The United States’ unemployment rate dropped to 6.6% in January, which is the lowest since 2008. Times are tough for the unemployed – especially for those who have been out of work for over 6 months. As every unemployed job seeker knows, there is often subtle discrimination against the unemployed, particularly those who have been out of work for six months or longer.
President Barack Obama is seeking to lead by example with his recent memorandum. Obama is pushing the federal government to not discriminate against unemployed individuals or individuals in financial difficulty. Financial issues shouldn’t be an issue for job seekers (but can still be a cause for individuals to lose their clearance).
“It’s the ultimate kick in the tuchis and completely unfair,” Christine C. Quinn, speaker of the [New York] City Council, said in an interview. Many argue that being on the unemployed blacklist makes it impossible to find a new job. Businesses won’t openly acknowledge this common practice, but some confirm that unemployment could signal outdated skills or an individual who is desperate for any work.
OLD MENTALITIES BEHIND THE PRACTICE
With a short supply of jobs, it is easy to stick with old mentalities when it comes to hiring. Ignoring the online profiles of candidates that are unemployed could be a mistake. When the economy was more robust, worrying that an unemployed individual was lazy or that the individual’s skills were lapsed may have had some merit. Today, many job seekers are out of work due to downsizing in both government and the contracting workforce. It is unrealistic to think that professional veterans with years of experience will lose skills in fields that are not rapidly changing each year.
IMPLICATIONS FOR RECRUITERS
Obama’s memo may have been directed at the Federal Government, but many states are already looking into legislation that would make it illegal for companies to discriminate against unemployed candidates. If the legislation makes it past the naysayers, it seems like it would be difficult to actually enforce, unless a company clearly communicated to a candidate that the reason they were not selected was due to long-term unemployment.
To avoid any issues, applicants should be screened based on capabilities and skills, and not on employment status. Job notices should also not discriminate against the unemployed. The bottom line is that the recruiting landscape looks much different than it used to due to the shifts in the economy. It may be time to stop asking a candidate how long s/he has been out of work, and instead focus whether the individual is qualified.
UNEMPLOYED = ACTIVE – The Cleared Network offers a number of features to help you determine if a candidate is active. Achievements, recent activity and posting to groups are quick ways to determine that a candidate is actively looking. In addition, the chat function lets you know a candidate is ‘online now’ – and available for your phone call, message or in-network chat. While the social features are great, the resume search feature at ClearanceJobs.com is also the best in the business. When searching for resumes, you can filter for only candidates who are ‘actively looking’ – great for those times when you need to make a quick hire.
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