Help Unemployed Candidates Get Back in the Game

The unemployment rate may be slowly going down, but there is one number that seems to keep going up: the number of Americans who have been out of work for six months or longer. 

The number of long-unemployed individuals increased from 5.1 million to 5.4 millionlast month, according to  As the number continues to climb, some economists worry it will result in a permanent jump in the unemployment rate.

Economists are split on the reasons for this epidemic.  Some believe it's simply due to low demand and will get better with time. But others feel it is more of a "structural" problem due to a gap between the skills required in today's available jobs and the skills the unemployed candidates possess.

Whatever the reason, the longer these individuals stay unemployed, the less desirable they will be to employers and the harder it will be for them to find a job.  "Unemployed discrimination" is still alive and well despite some lawmakers' attempts to stop it

The reason employers are reluctant to hire someone who has been out of work a long time is because they believe the person must not be a very good worker.  But due to the recession, many people found themselves unemployed through no fault of their own. Some of them really are star candidates. The key is getting employers to give them a chance. So how can they do that?

You can help them by offering these candidates to clients on a contract-to-direct basis. This allows your clients to "try-before-they-buy." If the candidate doesn't meet expectations, the client can end the assignment and try someone else. But if the candidate proves to be a good find, the company can then extend a direct-hire offer (and pay you a conversion fee!)

The plight of the long-term unemployed is not a simple problem with a simple answer.  But you may be able to help in a small way by convincing your clients to give some of these workers a chance.

Debbie Fledderjohann is the President of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc.

Views: 454

Comment by Randall Scasny on June 22, 2012 at 10:25am

I don't buy your argument and neither does Wharton Professor Peter Cappelli ( )

As I have reported in a previous comment on this site, I posed as a job seeker and in the 2nd interview was essentially told by the department manager that they dislike hiring people who had a history of contract jobs instead of full time employment.

But beyond that, too much contract labor (the knowledge labor force) is it deprives employers of a value-adding resource over the long term and employment, as well as creates finanical insecurity for the job seeker over the short term. This insecurity makes job seekers jump at jobs they would not take otherwise. And usually what happens is they make poor career decisions so they have a weak foundation down the road (a decade +).

I would always counsel a job seeker to hold out for a full time job rather than a contract job. There's no guarantee that the contract to hire turns into the a full time hire. Plus, contract jobs are much more stressful and people get fired a lot more often on a contract job than a full time employee job. That creates a whole new problem.

Randall Scasny

Comment by sabrinadove on June 22, 2012 at 12:00pm

If an employer insists upon having the candidate serve as a contract before being converted, I always try to get the employer to agree to making this conversion by a deadline. (Which can be one month after the candidate begins). The key is setting this deadline. Otherwise, the employer has no incentive to make the conversion.


Comment by Debbie Fledderjohann on June 28, 2012 at 8:56am

Our experience has been that employers are more likely to hire someone who has continued to work and kept their skills current, even if they have done so through contract assignments, over someone who has a large gap in their resume.  We have also found that while companies do need some long-term knowledge in the form of direct-hire employees, there are some instances where they only need a specialized skill set for a short period of time for a specific project or deadline.  Contract staffing allows them to obtain that skill set without having to make a long-term financial commitment.

Comment by Randall Scasny on June 28, 2012 at 9:23am

Debbie, I hear this all the time. But this mentality exists only because they have designed their businesses this way. It wasn't that way before. My father worked for 1 company for 38 years. My sister retired after working for 1 employer for 35 years.  Instead of resorting to contract labor, they could train the people like companies used to do. (My first job out of the Navy I was trained for a year. Yes, it did happen. Not now.) No. This is their choice and preference. They perceive they are serving their own needs and their share holders needs not the greater communities needs. But there are rare companies out there. Near where my sister retired is a shipbuilding company who has teamed with a local community college and helped the college develop a training program so the company would have trained employees for a generation. My question always is, who is our client? The person who pays your commission? How about the job seeker who is the community who creates the environment so the employer can earn profits. It's all very shortsighted and the regurgitation the line "specialized skill set for a short period of time for a specific project" has gotten very, very old and cliched.

Randall Scasny


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