President Obama has asked employers to hire the long-term unemployed and has even gotten more than 300 companies to agree to improve their recruiting efforts to ensure the unemployed get a fair shake.

But as you know, this is easier said than done.

You have undoubtedly encountered the"unemployed mindset" where client companies believe something must be wrong with a candidate who has been out of work for a long time.

Think back to a time when a client told you they will only consider actively employed candidates and you can see the unemployed mindset at work.  

Even clients who don't articulate that belief show it when they choose an actively employed candidate over an unemployed one with nearly identical skills and experience. 

So what can you, as a recruiter, do to overcome this mindset? First, you have to get to the root of why clients reject unemployed candidates. In many cases, you will find that it is simple fear. Hiring is risky.  If a company makes a bad hire, it can easily cost an employer $25,000 to $50,000 when you factor in advertising, recruiting, training, termination costs (unemployment, COBRA), etc.

You can see why employers are looking for quick ways to weed out candidates.  But discounting a candidate solely based on a gap in their resume can be harmful to the company, not just the candidate. They could miss out on great talent, not to mention the non-productive time they spend trying to find the perfect passive candidate.  Even so, the only way you can get companies to consider an unemployed candidate may be to somehow remove the risk.

But how? Well, when you have contract candidates you believe in, why not let the client hire them on a contract-to-direct basis? This allows them to see the worker "in action" BEFORE they make the direct hire commitment. If they like what they see, they can extend a direct-hire offer. If the candidate proves not to be a fit, the client can simply end the contract and try someone else.

As a side note, this is a great arrangement for you, too. You get paid for every hour the candidate works while on contract, plus you can earn a conversion fee if they are converted to a direct hire.

No one wants to see people remain on the unemployment line, but companies also don't want to make a hiring mistake.  By removing the perceived risk of hiring unemployed candidates, you can help the worker, your client, the economy, AND yourself.  How's that for a win-win-win-win?

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

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