Does Length Really Matter?

by Michael Verdi

It does if you are unemployed!  Even criminals get the nod over the long term unemployed.

If you are thinking of taking an extended break before focusing on your job search, think again.  Based on articles from Forbes  and Atlantic Mobile (via Reuters), people who have been unemployed for over six months have a distinct disadvantage compared to those who have been in transition for less than six months  —  Or any other category for that matter;  age, industry, education level and even those with criminal records.

Why such a discrepancy?
“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.” –  The Atlantic. 

The charts from The Atlantic illustrate results from Rand Ghayad’s study, which looked at the Beveridge curve (the relationship between different job openings and unemployment) for different ages, industries, and education levels. The Beverage curve looks normal across all measurement categories as long as you haven’t been out of work
for more than six months.  As you can see below, the cliff for long term unemployment is much more severe than for job switching.

govt statistics

govt statistics 2

The outlook is even worse for those who have been unemployed for over 2 years.  The Forbes article references a study among staffing/corporate recruiters and hiring managers conducted by Bullhorn software, which validates the results from Rand Ghayad.  These findings are even more sobering.  Almost half (44%) of respondents indicate that someone who has been unemployed for more than two years would be most difficult to place, while only about one-third (31%) report that someone with a (non-felony) criminal record would be most difficult to place.  That is a tough pill to swallow for the long term unemployed who have stayed on the straight and narrow.

Matthew O’Brien, author of The Atlantic article recommends that the government either begin hiring the long term unemployed or offer employers tax incentives for hiring the long term unemployed.   Results from the Bullhorn study (Forbes) suggests it is best to take a part-time job than to do no work at all.  It’s clear that until some policy is enacted, it is a good idea to find some sort of short term answer to the question on every recruiter and hiring manager’s mind…How long have you been out of work?

Interesting info: A May Bureau of labor statistics Press Release reports that there are 11.7 million unemployed persons in the United States (US).  While this number remains flat for April, it has seen a slight decline (0.4% or 673,000) since January.

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