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The Advantages of Hiring Unemployed Workers

September 25, 2020

By Sheila Hoover, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

The United States’ unemployment rate in February 2020 was 3.8%, and in April 2020 it shot up to 14.7% due to the pandemic.  Thankfully, it has slowly been decreasing during the past few months, however some economists worry a weak economy, or spike in pandemic cases, could spur more layoffs. 

Some industries are struggling during this time, however industries such as construction, grocery, delivery services, home improvement, and recreational vehicles are thriving and adding new employees to their teams.  This is a great time for those thriving employers to reexamine their preference of hiring people who are presently employed.

Employers have a predisposition that only passive candidates will have the skills and qualities they need for success in their company.  However, this leaves a large population of candidates often ignored.  There has been a perception that unemployed candidates are not as qualified, since they were not deemed essential enough to be kept by their former employers, or that their skills weren’t as good as their co-workers who remained employed.  Many unemployed people simply were caught up in a corporate reorganization, laid off because of a duplication following a merger, or were rightsized/downsized amid some other initiative that had nothing to do with their individual performance. It is this talent that often gets overlooked.

Consider the following business reasons to hiring unemployed workers:

  • Immediate Availability:  Unemployed workers are often ready to start work as quickly as possible.  They do not have to provide the customary 2-week notice or complete projects prior to making the transition to the new employer.
  • Flexibility: High performers generally have a deep level of experience in their particular industry.  This may limit their job search during “normal” times.  However, when they are unemployed, they may begin to look across all industries and functions to widen their opportunities.  This may allow employers in less glamorous industries to gain an employee they wouldn’t have a chance to hire under normal circumstances.
  • Enthusiastic: During the pandemic, it is difficult to keep employee moral high as there is a lot of uncertainty in the business world.  An unemployed worker is excited to get back to work and show their value and worth to their new employer.  Accepting a job offer and starting a new position can be a relief and a source of enthusiasm.  This positivity can breathe new life into your organization and stimulate productivity.
  • Compensation Impact:  Unemployed workers may be more flexible on their compensation.  They may have received a severance, or early retirement package, that will allow them to accept a lower salary, thus allowing the employer to hire a more experienced employee at a lower wage.  But keep in mind, it must be a competitive wage in order to retain that employee long term. They also may be more apt to accept a short- or long-term consulting role, sharing their knowledge and experience with your workforce.
  • Developing Talent: Many unemployed workers were a casualty of the last-in, first-out formula.  They were the last hired, so when cuts happened, they were the first to be let go.  Your decision to hire this candidate will capitalize on developing their talent.

As you see, there are many reasons to hire unemployed workers.  Amid all these reasons, applicants must still prove they are the right fit for the position and the company.  It is not that they warrant special consideration in comparison to employed, passive workers, it is that employers should not overlook them considering the advantages and value they can bring to your organization.

If we all consider the talent that is currently unemployed, we just might help our economy and colleagues obtain employment, which will continue to lower the unemployment rate.

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