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Jobless Discrimination And How To Overcome It
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A troubling trend in employment practices is emerging. What’s happening is many companies won’t even interview someone who is currently unemployed. While some companies are up-front about their policy, others don’t publicize it. Instead, they just quietly ignore the resumes sent to them by job seekers who aren’t working. The companies who have such a policy claim that people who aren’t working don’t have up to date skills. Also, the skills they do have may have become rusty. And after a long period of unemployment, people have lost some of the discipline and drive to work. Hiring such people would require retraining, something many employers don’t want to do. With so many people out of work, the advantage is all on the employers’ side: they can be as selective as they want.

But is this legal, or just another form of discrimination? While the companies are discriminating against the unemployed, they aren’t crossing any legal lines. The anti-discrimination laws are written to protect people who belong to a protected class, one that they did not choose to belong to. Examples of protected classes are women or racial minorities, who were born into those categories.

An unemployed person can hypothetically change his status as a member of the unemployed simply by getting a job. However, in this economy, that’s easier said than done. And the reality for many of them is that they did not choose to be unemployed. They ended up in that group because of the downturn that has been plaguing our economy for the past few years.

So what’s an unemployed person to do? If they’ve only been out of work for a short time, as in a few weeks or maybe a few months, their status as unemployed may not hurt them too much. They’d be best served to invest a lot of time and energy into networking and informational interviewing as a way to get past the initial human resources screening that would eliminate them from consideration. Using the networking as a way to demonstrate your willingness to work hard and your drive to find a job may overcome the bias against you as a person out of work.

If your time between jobs has been longer than 6 months, you’ll need to adopt some different strategies. Take some classes to brush up on your skills or learn some new ones. Find a company you want to work for and volunteer to work there a day or 2 a week, for free. What you’ll gain is some recent work experience, a good reference or 2, and you’ll be right on the spot if they do need to hire someone. Another option is find a company with good promotion potential and take a lower job than what you had. Then use that opportunity leverage your past experience to produce stellar results and be first in line for promotion. Make sure your resume and cover letter reflect these activities, whether you took a class or did some volunteer work.

While you may be out of work for no fault of your own and it certainly isn’t fair that companies are discriminating against you on those grounds, you can’t afford to let that stop you. Do what you need to do to overcome this new barrier to employment.

Street Talk

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