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The Cruel Catch-22 Of Long-Term Unemployment

Source: United Benefit Advisors (UBA)

It seems like it’s easier for people to find a job if they’re already employed. Consequently, it seems like the longer someone is unemployed, then the more unemployable he or she may appear. To combat this perception the Department of Labor has announced the availability of millions of dollars in grants to assist those who have been stuck in long-term unemployment. The money will go toward training and counseling programs as well as job placement. There is also a push to convince HR personnel that people, no matter how long they’ve been unemployed, deserve a fair shot at an open position.

President Obama announced best-practice guidelines for employers to follow including the assurance that they would not discourage, discriminate against, or even screen out the long-term unemployed. Obama said, “We’ve got to get these folks back in the game.”

According to an article in Human Resource Executive Online, the stage is set for legislation to be proposed making such practices illegal. With the possible eventuality that every state will have its own anti-long-term-unemployment law, employers, HR leaders, and hiring managers would be well-advised to get ahead of the curve and learn all the potential employment laws in the states where they do business.

Besides the altruistic reasons to hire the long-term unemployed — being a good corporate citizen and helping the economy — it also makes good financial sense from an employer perspective. Consider that someone who has been out of work for a long time is more likely to accept a job for a lower salary, be grateful for that job, and exceed performance expectations in order to keep their job.

From the standpoint of the long-term unemployed, they can increase their chances of being hired by filling in the gaps on their resumes. According to an article in Forbes magazine, some of the best things to do are:

  • Take temporary or contract assignments
  • Take a class
  • Volunteer
  • Start a business
  • Start a blog
  • Network to make connections

These activities will show a prospective employer that a person is still highly motivated, is continuing to put their skills to good use, and can bring a variety of expertise to any team. In fact, a broad range of activities while unemployed is likely to increase a person’s marketability due to their strengthened and expanded skillset.