As a member of that most beleaguered class in American society today, the college graduation class of 2009, I feel a kinship with my fellow graduates who were essentially frozen out of an economy stricken by the Great Recession. Employers of all stripes simply boarded up the hatches to ride out the turbulent times – not to hire anyone new until the recession had eased.
Well, now that the recession may finally be easing, it turns out that there’s an overabundance of job-seekers, both new (fresh graduates or those returning to a civilian lifestyle), old (previously unemployed), and those who want to trade up (people who are already employed). The mad scramble for jobs has begun, with every Great Recession unemployee and fresh college grad competing with those who managed to hold onto their original job during the turbulence.
It seems that those who want to trade up are having the best response to their job search queries. That’s bad news for the Class of 2009, many of whom are still unemployed or, more likely, underemployed. The classes of 2008 and 2010 have not fared well either, and the class of 2011 is still not likely to have an easy run of it. Older unemployed workers may face even worse challenges, with age discrimination being a further hurdle.
Many employers are incorrectly assuming that unemployed applicants are unreliable. “They must not be good employees if they’re unemployed,” an HR manager might think. “Good employees NEVER get laid off during a recession.”
Here’s how that wrongthink, my sarcasm included, will hurt the business sector:
1.) Unemployed applicants are likely to be more grateful for the job than someone who is merely trying to “trade up” or “switch” from job to job. The unemployed applicant is more likely to work harder to integrate into the culture and methods of the new employer.
2.) Unemployment sucks, so an unemployed applicant will work harder than his or her employed competitors to avoid being terminated as an employee. An employee who has just suffered through months, or more, of unemployment is less likely to want to risk that misery again. He or she is therefore less likely to break the rules or engage in shoddy work.
3.) Unemployed applicants are likely to be more loyal to their new employer. They will have, as I wrote above, a sense of gratitude. A “job switcher” who has not faced unemployment likely feels no such loyalty and will spring at the chance to move to another job. A loyal employee, craving stability after a period of unemployment, is less likely to abandon ship at the first prospect of something that seems more appealing.
4.) Ignoring unemployed applicants creates a permanent underclass in society, for which everyone in society will have to pay in various ways.
So, business moguls, take a chance on an unemployed applicant who has the desire and vim and vigor to do good work for you. He or she will be more grateful, more loyal, and less likely to break the rules…all in all, a great employment catch.