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Does a candidate’s length of unemployment matter?

08/05/2013
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Pre employment assessments can help HR teams find applicants with the right skills, regardless of how long the individuals have been out of work.

This blog previously discussed how important it was during the interview process if a job applicant was self-employed. Recent research looked into the issue of unemployment length, and asked whether it mattered how long a candidate had been unemployed.

According to Northeastern University doctoral student Rand Ghayad and his advisor William Dickens, no matter how many job opportunities open up, the long-term unemployed have more difficulty finding a position.

Ghayad sent out 4,800 fictitious resumes to 600 job openings, with 3,600 of them for fake unemployed people. While the researcher varied how long those 3,600 had been out of work, he kept other variables-gender, name, educational background-the same. Ghayad found that those who had been out of work less than six months had a better chance of getting a callback than those who had been unemployed for a longer period of time.

A Harvard Business Review contribution piece discussed the research, and said that some companies might fear that those who have not held a position for some time may have outdated skills. Or, some might think that if an applicant was truly talented, he or she would have been hired already.

“What we do know about job candidates who are long-term unemployed, which is related to job success, is that they are persistent,” the article said. “Millions of other unemployed facing this job market gave up looking and dropped out of the labor force.”

Sifting through piles of resumes and cover letters is hardly easy, but HR teams must ensure that they are choosing the right applicants to push through to the next level. With pre employment assessments that can focus on various skills, companies can rest assured that they are hiring candidates with the necessary technical abilities, regardless of how long an individual has been unemployed.