A Novel Idea: Hire the Unemployed

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.

2 Replies to “A Novel Idea: Hire the Unemployed”

  1. Yes,
    I do agree with your view. This seems to be a shameful truth of our life.
    In some of the odd cases we may find jobless people who are not employed just because of Non-Willingness to wok….. in rest of the cases most of the people remain un-employed becouse ‘Financial’ or ‘Opportunity’ related reasons which might be beyond their control even if they might prove to be Best Suitable Candidate for some Specific Job.

  2. The age where age discrimination really kicks in happens to be about the same as the age that people have children who are old enough to be thinking about what field they will pursue for a career. We can have all the promotion of STEM in the world, but none of it will matter if young people see with their own eyes what is happening to their parents.

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