NOT an effective business card.

I wrote about this in a previous post…“The Stink of Unemployment” specifically refers to the proclivity of recruiters to utilize “employment status” as an unspoken job requirement. In other words, if you’re not currently employed, you won’t be considered for employment. Ironic, yes? Illegal? No.

But, as this Atlantic article points out, there is a very scary existence for those who are part of an especially discriminated-upon population ~ the long-term unemployed.

There’s no way to sugar-coat this particular issue. There is most definitely a filter in the hiring process that targets and eliminates applicants who are not actively employed ~ especially so in any situation that depends on a “blind” resume submission. Right or wrong, as a recruiter you react to supply & demand. Positions that are in high demand will have no problem attracting a supply of candidates, so a candidate with a long-term (per the article, “long-term” is longer than six months) state of unemployment will be an immediate (and easy) elimination. Why?

  1. Relevance ~ In some jobs, being removed from the game for six months could put you at a considerable disadvantage
  2. Perception ~ “Why do I want you if no one else wants you?“; harsh but realistic. Do you want the Chevy with a current owner, or the one that has been abandoned for 6 months? Show me the damn CarFax.
  3. Candidate 2.0 ~ Even if a LTUA (long-term unemployed applicant, you like that?) is identified as a leading candidate, the thinking is that another more attractive (i.e. “employed”) candidate is right around the bend.
  4. Cost ~ Internal Staffing resources and/or Contracted Recruiters are an investment; the way to show value to your client is finding the candidate they can’t find themselves. Even better if you can stick it to a competitor by taking someone they value; that doesn’t translate to the long-term unemployed.

Using a Beveridge Curve (don’t ask) to illustrate the point, Mr. O’Brien reveals even worse news – a candidate who is less qualified, if unemployed for less than six months, will be called back before an LTUA.

This all basically sucks for you if you’re currently in the unfortunate state of being unemployed for an extended amount of time. I can’t crack that code yet, but I do have one recommendation I would offer anyone who cares to listen.

Save a tree and quit sending resumes. Don’t expect a callback from an on-line or mailed resume submission. The stakes are much higher for you, so your role is now a full-time network maven. Network, network, network – in PERSON. Find groups, cold-call offices, call in favors, take a lessor position to get closer to someone in a position of influence. Your job is selling YOU. Ask for help…start here, I’ll listen. We need to get you a different acronym.

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder of the HR Hardball™ Straight talk, no-nonsense approach to workplace issues. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn for more samplings of the Hardball message.