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If you have been in the recruiting industry for any length of time, you are probably familiar with what is known as the “unemployed mindset” – the tendency of employers to prefer currently employed candidates over those who are unemployed. This mindset has prevailed despite mass layoffs during the recession that put many on the unemployment lines through no fault of their own.

As the economy continues its sluggish recovery, some are still struggling to find work. Here are some reasons you and your clients shouldn’t arbitrarily discount them:

  1. Find quality workers at a bargain price. If someone needs to find work, they may be a little more flexible in compensation negotiations. In this most recent recession, the layoffs were so deep that even some star employees were caught in the crosshairs, so you may be surprised at the quality that is still available.
  2. Updated skills. The misconception is workers’ skills get outdated when they have been out of work.  But as Kazim Ladimeji points out in a recent article, these candidates may actually have more current skills because they have had more free time to develop them. With all the resources available online, including free webinars and online college courses, professional development is easy… when you have the time.
  3. Overcome the “skills gap.” There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about a skills gap or labor shortage. Despite a still high unemployment rate, employers insist that the available workers don’t have the right skills. But others argue the skills gap is actually caused by a bias against the unemployed. There is data out there to support both positions, but obviously if your clients widen their searches to include unemployed candidates they may have previously overlooked, they could uncover workers with the skills they need.
  4. Legal compliance. After the recession, some employers went as far as stating in job ads that only currently employed candidates would be considered. That practice caused a major backlash that prompted some states, such as New Jersey and Oregon, to pass laws banning unemployed discrimination.  Others states have considered similar laws, and there has been talk of legislation on the federal level as well. So if a client company has a blanket policy against hiring the unemployed, you may want to advise them against it.

The fact is, your clients aren’t passing on unemployed candidates just to be mean.  Being unemployed, especially when the gap in employment has been particularly long, does raises some questions. But by putting an overall ban on candidates who are not currently working, clients could be missing out on some great candidates.

A better solution is contract staffing. By offering unemployed candidates to clients on a contract-to-direct basis, you can allow your clients to “try-before-they-buy.” If the candidate doesn’t work out, they can simply end the contract and try someone else. But if they have found a great worker, they can extend the direct hire offer.  And you can earn a nice conversion fee.

Just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge a candidate based solely on a gap in their resume. Find out why the gap exists and what they have to offer.  And if you think you have a good candidate on your hands, don’t hesitate to offer them to your clients on a contract-to-direct basis.

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