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President Obama wants to end discrimination against the unemployed and has gotten more than 300 companies to agree to give the long-term jobless a fair shake. But as recruiters out in the trenches, you know that this is easier said than done. The “unemployed mindset,” the belief that there must be something wrong with a candidate who hasn’t already found a job, is a long held perception that will take more than a presidential initiative to eliminate. You have probably had a client somewhere down the line tell you they will only consider actively employed candidates. And you know that even if they don’t say it, when all other factors are equal, many companies are going to select the candidate who has no gaps in employment.

To truly get employers over the unemployed mindset, you have to get to the root of why they reject unemployed candidates in the first place. In many cases, it simply comes down to risk. Hiring ANYONE on a direct hire basis is a risky proposition.  If employers get it wrong, all the money they spent on advertising, recruiting, training, termination costs (unemployment, COBRA), etc., will be wasted, not to mention the loss of production they will experience as they try to replace the bad hire. Due to these factors, statistics show that a bad hire can easily cost an employer $25,000 to $50,000.

While  unfair, it’s easy to see why employers weed out applicants based on perceived weaknesses, such as employment status. But by doing so, they aren’t just hurting the worker and the economy.  The practice of discounting workers based solely on their unemployed status hurts companies as well because they can miss out on some truly great talent.  In many cases, though, the only way to get them to take a chance on these workers is to remove the risk. That’s where you, as a recruiter, come in.

When you have candidates you believe in, you can suggest that clients start them on a contract-to-direct basis.  This allows them to “try-before-they-buy.” They can see the worker “in action” BEFORE they make the direct hire commitment. If the worker proves to be a good fit, they can then extend a direct-hire offer.  But if it doesn’t work out, they can simply end the contract and try someone else.

Contract-to-direct is great for you, as a recruiter, as well.  Not only do you get paid for every hour the candidate works while on contract, you can earn a conversion fee if they are converted to a direct hire.

No one wants to see people remain out of work, but companies will do what they feel they need to do to make hiring as “safe” as they can.  By removing the perceived risk of hiring unemployed candidates, you can help the worker, your client, the economy, AND yourself.  How’s that for a win-win-win-win?

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