“Show Them the Money!”

I saw this post on the Harvard Business Review blog recently. It seems there have been a couple of studies done that prove what we all know.

The longer you’re out of work the harder it is to get a job.

Dr. Capelli rightly states that it’s time for that trend to reverse. Companies need to stop ignoring the enormous pool of talented people who through no fault of their own have found themselves without regular employment for an extended period of time.

I’ve been saying the same thing for years and spoke at an ERE Expo last year on this┬ásame topic. I appreciate Dr. Capelli’s research and insight but I fear he’s coming at this from the wrong perspective. He makes an objective and academic argument for hiring the long term unemployed and clearly makes the case of why it’s okay to hire them and wrong to discriminate against them. But the only thing that will change the way organizations behave is to “show them the money.” At the end of his piece he talks briefly about the benefits to the company.┬áThis is the most pressing argument .

We all know that people who have been out of work for over six months are being discriminated against. Unfortunately companies seem to need academic, allegedly objective studies to prove what we all know anecdotally to be true. We need to do our damnedest to make companies see the benefit of reaching out and hiring people from this group of applicants because of the reasons he cites near the end of the piece. This should be the lead if we really want to change organizations’ behavior.

Finally, and this is one more change we ALL need to remember. People who have been out of work for over a month, six months, a year, are still people. We need to use “people first” language or else we risk a very subliminal form of discrimination. When we refer to this group as “the long-term unemployed” we are defining them by what they are not, employed, instead of who they are, people who are viable candidates who can fill our open positions and help our companies succeed. We need to be very careful not to lump or stereotype them as this creates one more obstacle to their rejoining the workforce and being productive long-term employed people.

Thanks for listening and please pardon the somewhat “rant” tone of this post. This is a topic I’m very passionate about.
Only the best,
Ron