It Goes Both Ways

I had an interesting conversation with an unemployed professional the other day. She’s been looking for work for some time now. Her job dissolved when the economy took a tumble. She’s been out of work for over a year and has been doing what she can to adjust to the fast changing job market.  “Companies are reluctant to hire unemployed people,” she told me. “The fact I’ve been out of work for so long is a problem for them. They see the time I’ve been out of work and form judgments from that. It’s horribly unfair considering the economy.”

She’s right. With all we know about the recession, hiring managers still struggle with the long held sense employed candidates hold more appeal than the unemployed. Good workers don’t lose their jobs, right? If they do, certainly it doesn’t take them over a year to find work. Not if they are resourceful, smart and have usable skills. Individuals who have been unemployed for an extended period of time have to do battle with this kind of thinking. Fair or not, it’s real.

What’s interesting about this problem is that the door swings both ways. Just as many good workers had their careers turned on end by the economy, many good companies went from basking in success to teetering on the brink of failure. Care to guess how unemployed professionals feel about working for these companies? Many who I speak with would rather not. They want a stable company with fewer risks. Understandable, but the irony shouldn’t be ignored. With a debris field as wide as what we’ve experienced with this recession, both sides are going to have to come to terms with the fact moving forward is going to require setting aside some biases. Risks are going to have to be taken by all parties. The best we can expect of others is what we are willing to extend to them. Job seekers unwilling to take a risk on struggling companies have little room to complain about companies unwilling to take a risk on struggling candidates.

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