According to many employment experts, there is a hiring bias against jobless applicants. So how can unemployed candidates overcome the hiring bias in today’s job marketplace?
Over the past few years, the number of employers who refuse to even consider jobless applicants for available openings has risen at an alarming rate.
Although it’s difficult to determine how widespread the problem actually is, some employers clearly state in their job posting that currently unemployed jobseekers need not apply – and that doesn’t take into account the number of employers who take a more subtle approach in discriminating against the unemployed.
The hiring bias against the unemployed captured the attention of agencies like the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, Congress and even President Obama, who has proposed legislation to protect unemployed job applicants.
But in practice, it’s impossible to completely eradicate the problem. As crazy as it sounds, employed job applicants will always have an edge over unemployed applicants simply because some employers choose to believe that jobless candidates possess inferior skills or qualifications.
The good news is that there are several strategies you can deploy to counter the hiring bias against the jobless and land a fantastic new position – even if you have been unemployed for an extended period of time.
Reputation Building. The key to overcoming hiring bias is to build your reputation within your field or industry. Although a good reputation is always a factor in a job search, it’s critically important for jobless applicants to establish credibility as highly skilled job candidates. Everything from your resume to your interview strategy must be geared toward solidifying your qualifications and on-the-job capabilities.
- Active Networking. Personal recommendations and referrals can eliminate an employer’s resistance to hiring jobless workers. But to get them, you’ll need to actively network in your industry. Existing contacts are a good start. However, you will need to quickly expand your network by participating in trade associations and industry events.
- Contract Work. Independent contract work demonstrates to employers that your skills and expertise are in demand in the marketplace. In a tight economy, there are plenty of opportunities to work on a contract or part-time basis. Even though you may be looking for a new full-time gig, continue to perform contract work so you can honestly say that you are currently employed and active in your field.
- Nonprofit or Charity Work. Nonprofit or charity work is a great way to build your resume and your reputation during periods of unemployment, especially if you can continue to exercise your vocational skill set in a volunteer role. Employers appreciate the fact that you have continued to work in your field and the charity might expose you to other volunteers who can help you land a position in your primary industry.
- Achievements vs. Responsibilities. Sooner or later, you will an encounter an employer who is willing to seriously consider you for an available job opening. To dispel any lingering doubts they may have about hiring someone after a period of unemployment, be sure to emphasize quantified work achievements (rather than job responsibilities) in your application materials and interview. Hard numbers (e.g. sales figures, goals achieved, etc.) are indisputable proof that you possess the skills and ability to perform at a high level.