Posts Tagged ‘the economy’

Smart CEOs are Hiring the Unemployed (or at least they should be )

January 17th, 2011

Hey CEO’s!  If I could save you time, money, and attrition at your company, organization or business would you listen to me?

If I could show you how to increase your profits, orders, donations, services to your customers would it be worth your time?

Well, listen up.

For anyone who has been out of work for an extended period of time, last Friday’s Huffington Post article, How Employers Weed Out Unemployed Job Applicants, Others, Behind The Scenes isn’t news.

Anyone who has been looking for a while has hit up against the bias of employers passing them over in favor of people currently working.  Recruiters and HR staff cite that they are getting their marching orders from the top because people who are unemployed are perceived as not being up to speed, not current or just lazy and unqualified.

To tell you the truth, in a weird way I admire the folks who actually admit their bias.  As someone seeking work, it is far better to know where not to waste my time, than to try to uncover whether or not an employer is weeding out candidates based on unemployment status.

Smart CEO’s have done their homework and know such practices are neither immoral nor illegal.  But what you may not know, CEOs, is what you are doing is bad business.  Oh, people who are unemployed may argue that it’s unfair or not right; but we all know what’s driving the decision.  It’s the bottom line.  Money talks.

Okay, I’m going look at this from your big chair at the head of the board table.

And, for those of you playing along at home who are unemployed, you should listen, too.

Profit is driving decisions today;  or at the very least, there is a need to grow and support a non-profit,  to provide funding and grants to educational institutions, or supply a tax base for government services to keep organizations viable.  Everyone needs to know the dollars they spend today will return to keep their company or organization in the black, not put them in the red.

We all can agree on that point, right?  No big news here.  But how do you do it?  The economy is recovering… slowly.  How can you speed up the process, how can you make gains this quarter and the next?

Hey, are you still with me?  I’m going to let you in on a secret.

If you want the economy to recover faster, if you want to add money to your budget rather than slash it, want investment in your business, want consumers to buy your products, want people to donate to your cause HIRE SOMEONE WHO IS UNEMPLOYED.

I wrote about this in December – granted you were probably busy with end of year closings, trying to figure out if you could give your remaining employees some type of holiday bonus, or just caught up in all the festivities that occur between Thanksgiving and New Years – so in case you missed it, I’ll give you the gist of of what I said.

Not hiring someone because they are unemployed — regardless of your position on the subject — is bad business.

As an employer you may complain you aren’t getting orders for your goods, your staff budgets are cut, you’re being made to do more with less because the economic recovery is too slow.  Well, you may not like it, but those things you are complaining about? — you’re perpetuating them.

Here’s how you can fix your business, and the economy – HIRE SOMEONE WHO IS UNEMPLOYED.

Hiring someone who is unemployed is like watching the dominoes fall.

When an unemployed person gets a job they stop collecting unemployment — paid for by tax dollars — and start contributing to the tax base.

When an unemployed person gets a job they can pay their bills so they don’t amass debt and end up filing for bankruptcy leaving their lenders high and dry.

When an unemployed person gets a job mortgages are paid on time and foreclosure is avoided.  This not only means banks don’t have to be bailed out, it reduces the devaluation of everyone else’s homes.

When an unemployed person gets a job they spend money.  They pay for goods, services and contribute to charitable causes.  They become consumers and stimulate the economy.

When an unemployed person gets a job they stop draining their 401ks and IRAs.  They start saving and investing.  They contribute to retirement plans and college funds which translates into investment in stocks and bonds and mutual funds.  The market gains, and city, state and federal government bonds fund infrastructure projects and create jobs.

The talent pool of unemployed people out there is vast.  Take advantage of it.  These are people with training, skills and experience.  They’re chomping at the bit to work — and currently there’s a fire sale.

Where I am here in North Carolina many unemployed are not only college educated professionals, but have advanced degrees as well.  These people are tech savvy and ramp up quickly.

Oh, I hear you protest — “they’ll just leave when the economy gets better”, “they’re not going to stick around for the long term”, “they’re just waiting for a better job”.

Well, here’s a reality check.

The economy isn’t getting better any time fast unless people get jobs and start working.

As to looking for long term employees, look at the average time the people who are unemployed have worked for their previous employers — now look at that candidate of yours who is already employed.  Who has a better record of long term employment and loyalty?  Besides, if that candidate you are looking at is willing to jump ship to work for you, who is to say they aren’t going to be willing to leave you in the dust for the next passing ship.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The length of time a worker remains with the same employer increases with the age at which the worker began the job.  Of the jobs that workers began when they were 18 to 22 years of age, 72% of those jobs ended in less than a year and 94% ended in fewer than 5 years.  Among jobs started by 39- to 44-year-olds, 33% ended in less than a year and 68% ended in fewer than 5 years.”

Hey, that’s a recommendation for older workers as well!

And regarding waiting for a better job?  A recent survey by Right Management showed that a whopping 84% of workers are planning on seeking new employment in 2011.  So that excuse isn’t going to fly.

People who are employed are less willing to bear the burden of covering two people’s jobs.  Employees are burnt out, stressed out and just plain tired of doing more with less for the last 3 years.  A recent article on Beyond Morale, a blog on employee engagement, underscores that those people who have been left behind to do the job of two people (or more) on their single salary are disgruntled and less loyal.

On the other hand, I’m pretty sure a newly employed, former long-term unemployed worker would be hungry, thankful and happy for meaningful work.  After all, they’ve dealt with trying to make ends meet on a fraction of what they previously earned.  They’ve already lived with the stigma and other negative attributes associated with unemployment — and they aren’t looking to return there any time soon.

Hey, CEOs are you still there?  Do you still think it’s smart passing over the person who is unemployed to fill your vacant position?  You have an opportunity; will you take advantage of it?  You have the ability to do the one thing an unemployed person can’t do for themselves – HIRE SOMEONE WHO IS UNEMPLOYED.

Not hiring someone because they are unemployed is bad business.  But luckily, you can fix that.

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All I Want for Christmas is a Job

December 20th, 2010

All I want for Christmas is job – seems like an easy enough wish, right?  Unfortunately, I was greeted this morning by the news that unemployment in NC was up to 9.7% in November.  The forecast for the unemployed, in particular the long-term unemployed, is about as cold  as the winter weather. Christmas Tree w/ business card

Last week’s article in the New York Times“Unemployed and Likely to Stay That Way” – heralds in the new age of unemployment.  Whether we like it or not, whether it is fair or not, being unemployed means you are less likely to get an interview, let alone a job.

When CNN ran a story earlier this year – “Unemployed Need Not Apply” – there was a swift backlash against of the companies in the report for their discrimination towards those out of work.  But in hindsight, I have to admire them for at least being up front that they weren’t looking at applicants who were out of work (even though closer scrutiny by the press made Latro Consulting and Sony Erricson cease running the comment in their advertising).

The grim fact is that HR departments and recruiters, whether they are telling you or not, are using unemployment status to filter out candidates for the positions they have open.  What is worse, the press is arguing that companies are justified in using such practices.

Here’s the harsh reality of unemployment today:

You aren’t going to get the interview – unless you can network your way in to the hiring manager and get them to talk to you, you aren’t going to get the interview.  Companies today are informing their staff that they aren’t to interview the unemployed.

No amount of training or retraining is going to get you the job, let alone the interview – the belief that unemployed workers are not current on their skills is often used as justification why not to interview a candidate.  However, even if you go back to school to get current training, or retrain for a new career, because you don’t have applicable experience – and that is experience where you are earning a wage, not volunteering, not unpaid work – you are going to be screened out of the interview process.

Don’t get sucked into paying for schooling that will leave you in debt and still without a job.  Do your research and look at the placement figures before going back to school.  There is a flood of people with advance degrees in the job market today, many of whom  have to “dumb down” their resume to get a recruiter to look at them.

Companies don’t care about transferable skills – for many workers who are laid off, they are told to make an inventory of transferable skills that carry from one job to another, from one career path to another.  Companies don’t care – they are not going to spend the time to train you for the job they want to fill.  They want people with the exact match of skills and experience to fill the few openings they have – and in this market they can find them.

You aren’t going to get paid anywhere near what you made before – I think this might be the hardest medicine to swallow, especially for older workers.  Early on in my search I asked what was a realistic cut in pay to take when pursuing a job in this market.  The professionals I asked hemmed and hawed and no one gave me a straight answer (I should have taken that as a sign).  It is very rare that you will get the same rate of pay and benefits you had previously.

So amongst this doom and gloom, in this week of hope, is there any bright light?

Not really, but I have some advice.

Take a job – any job. Do your best to get the best job you can, but get out there and work – you are far more likely to get an interview if you are already working.  A recent blog entry identified 10 companies that pay benefits to part time workers – at least there’s a place to start. You may be underemployed, but it’s one less nail in the coffin and one less excuse not to interview you.

Hang out your shingle. If you have a profession where you can set yourself up as a consultant, do so.  All that uncompensated work you do as an unpaid intern/volunteer/good egg?  Put that under your umbrella of being an independent consultant.  And start charging for your time – others need to learn and see your value.

Lie -  well, okay, maybe don’t lie. But approach the process of pursing a job like being cross-examined on Law & Order.  Give only the minimum amount of information necessary.  Don’t provide the opportunity to lead to questioning that might put you in a poor light.  Your judge and jury – your potential employers – need to see you as a reliable witness, uh, candidate.

Take charge of your career and stop allowing people blame you for being unemployed.  I think the most frustrating thing I hear over and over again is that there must be something wrong with the people who are unemployed otherwise they wouldn’t be unemployed.  That’s a crock.  There are good people and there are bad people in every situation, but when there are 5 times as many qualified people for every job the blame shouldn’t be on the people who are seeking to work.

The most damaging thing I read and hear reported is that it is inevitable that people who are unemployed today will never return to work.  The Press continue to perpetuate this idea as acceptable.  It isn’t.

A lot has been made of the recent deal between the White House and Republicans.  There are people in both the Democratic and Republican camps that grumble for different reasons.  But the underlying issue of the unemployment problem is something both sides can agree upon – there aren’t enough jobs and jobs are not being created at a fast enough pace to offset the number of people seeking employment.

Regardless of which side of the fence you are on – Democrat or Republican, recruiter or candidate – I’m here to tell you that not interviewing someone because they are out of work is bad business.  In fact, not hiring someone who is unemployed is bad for the economy.

Now I’m not a renowned economist, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if the only people being hired are people are already employed the unemployment numbers aren’t going to decrease.  And, if there is any true hope for recovery, people who are unemployed are going to have to go back to work or they will continue to be a drain on the federal budget and the economy will continue to stagnate.

If just one brave soul were actually to hire someone who was unemployed – and I think I’ve been clear there are plenty of smart, qualified people eager to work out there – then we all would reap the benefits.

By employing the unemployed you reduce the number of people collecting unemployment benefits – that makes sense, right?  But more than that, and especially for the long-term unemployed, there is associated reduction of burden on federal and state programs such as Medicaid, food stamps and welfare.  There is a reduction of people defaulting on loans, having homes go into foreclosure, and the associated spiraling effects on financial markets and institutions.  Cashing out 401ks and IRAs drains investments in stocks and bonds and tightens the funds available to make improvements to city, state and federal infrastructure and spur new business growth – all of which means there is less happening to create new jobs.

When the unemployed become employed once again, they become part of the economy.  They are paying taxes; they are buying goods.  They start consuming things from basics like clothing and gas and cars to cable tv and phone service.  They go to the doctor more regularly and take preventative care measures to make themselves more healthy. They are putting money back in their 401ks and saving for retirement.  All those things people give up when they don’t have a job and disposable income.  Well, Americans like their creature comforts, and they want them back.

All I want for Christmas is job?  All I really want for Christmas is for people who are unemployed to be treated like people who are employed.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

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