Did you read The Jobless Trap? In it, Paul Krugman asserts we are creating an underclass of long-term unemployed. This is what really stood out for me:
This could happen because their work skills atrophy, but a more likely reason is that potential employers assume that something must be wrong with people who can’t find a job, even if the real reason is simply the terrible economy. And there is, unfortunately, growing evidence that the tainting of the long-term unemployed is happening as we speak.
Do you know why this happens? For several reasons:
- In this, a buyer's market, hiring managers and internal recruiters are looking for the “best” candidate. They are shopping around.
- Hiring managers (still) create laundry list job descriptions full of technical skills they might need. They overlook or don't describe the activities and deliverables they do need and don't describe the essential cultural fit necessary for the job.
- Agism is rampant, especially in our industry.
There's more, but I'll stop there.
Hiring managers: stop looking for the “best”, shiniest penny in your list of candidates. Stop trying to hire passive candidates. Give those unemployed people a chance. Sure, negotiate with them regarding starting salary—they are probably thrilled to negotiate.
We don't need to create a permanent underclass in this country, especially not in high tech. (And don't think it's not happening in high tech. It is. I have friends and colleagues who have been out of work for more than a year. Their “problem?” Their age. It's a damn shame.)
Hiring managers and internal recruiters: you know that these people have the maturity to provide significant value. Learning a new language or a new tool? Come on. The more experience people have, the easier this is. You might even hire people on a three-month trial basis, dependent on their ability to learn and deliver results.
So, hire the unemployed. They got unlucky a few years ago. You can turn this around for them.