How to REALLY End Discrimination Against the Unemployed

By DEBBIE FLEDDERJOHANN, President of Top Echelon Contracting

President Obama announced in his State of the Union Address earlier this year that he wanted to end discrimination against the unemployed.  He even got more than 300 companies to agree not to overlook applicants based solely on their employment status.

But eliminating “unemployment discrimination” is easier said than done.

Employers have a long-held perception that we like to call the “unemployed mindset,” which is the belief that there must be something wrong with a candidate who hasn’t already found a job.  It will take more than a presidential initiative to eliminate that mindset.

Just think of the times you have had clients specifically tell you not to present unemployed candidates.  Or ask yourself how likely it is that an unemployed candidate will be chosen over a candidate who has no gaps in employment when all other factors are equal.

To overcome unemployment discrimination, you have to get to the root of why it happens.  It often just comes down to risk.

Direct hiring is a risky proposition.  If a direct hire doesn’t work out, all of the money spent on advertising, recruiting, training, termination costs (unemployment, COBRA), etc., will be wasted.  Then there are the intangibles, such as loss of production and the morale of the remaining employees.  Statistics show that, due to these factors, a bad hire can easily cost an employer $25,000 to $50,000.

You can easily see why employers weed out unemployed applicants, even if it’s unfair.  But by doing so, they are hurting themselves, not just the candidates.  It can cause companies to 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 can help.

If you have a candidate that you really believe in, you may want to offer them to the client on a contract-to-direct basis.  This allows the client to “try-before-they-buy.”  They can see the worker’s skills, work ethic, and fit BEFORE they make the direct hire commitment.

If the client likes what they see, 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.

By the way, contract-to-direct is great for YOU, too.  You get paid for every hour the candidate works while on contract, AND you can earn a conversion fee if they are converted to a direct hire.

No one wants to see people struggle, but companies will do whatever they can to protect themselves from the costs of a bad hire.  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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