May 19, 2022

Out of Work For Over Six Months? Consider Yourself Permanently Unemployable

need-workBeen laid off for over six months?  If so, then you know for a fact that trying to find a job when you don’t have one is nearly impossible.

People who have been out of work for over six months are permanently damaged goods in the eyes of most employers.  If no one else has a reason to hire you for six months, why would a prospective employer want to take a chance with you?  And why did you lose your job in the first place unless you weren’t doing a good job?

It’s a tough world and a huge challenge for anyone facing The Terrifying Reality of Long-Term Unemployment.

There are two labor markets nowadays. There’s the market for people who have been out of work for less than six months, and the market for people who have been out of work longer. The former is working pretty normally, and the latter is horribly dysfunctional.

But just how bad is it for the long-term unemployed? Ghayad ran a follow-up field experiment to find out. In a new working paper, he sent out 4800 fictitious resumes to 600 job openings, with 3600 of them for fake unemployed people. Among those 3600, he varied how long they’d been out of work, how often they’d switched jobs, and whether they had any industry experience. Everything else was kept constant. The mocked-up resumes were all male, all had randomly-selected (and racially ambiguous) names, and all had similar education backgrounds. The question was which of them would get callbacks.
It turns out long-term unemployment is much scarier than you could possibly imagine.

The results are equal parts unsurprising and terrifying. Employers prefer applicants who haven’t been out of work for very long, applicants who have industry experience, and applicants who haven’t moved between jobs that much. But how long you’ve been out of work trumps those other factors.

The sad truth for the long term unemployed is that they are screened out of the job selection process almost immediately and for very valid reasons from the perspective of the employer.  So called “job training programs” are also useless for increasing the odds of employment since the overriding factor of employee selection is highly prejudicial against anyone who has been out of work for over six months.

The options for the long term unemployed are few.  I know of a person who was unemployed for an extended period of time and was able to convince a friend who owned a business to say that he had worked there for the past two years.  This technique worked like a charm and the person wound up getting a job.  If you are not inclined to go this route, self employment seems to be the only other option

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