article » There Really Is A Stigma Against The Long-Term Unemployed

There Really Is A Stigma Against The Long-Term Unemployed

April 16, 2013
2 min read

The longer you've been out of work, the harder it is to find a job.

More evidence of the stigma against the long-term unemployed was found by economist Rand Ghayad, who conducted an experiment where he sent out 4,800 fictitious résumés for 600 job openings. Ghayad found that managers would rather hire people with no relevant job experience than someone who's been unemployed for a long time or has had several jobs in a short period of time.

The resumes sent out described candidates looking work for different reasons across several industries, but all were all male, had racially ambiguous names and similar education backgrounds.

Below is a chart from the paper illustrating how little it matters if you have experience in the industry you're applying for because "the first thing employers look at is how long you've been out of work, and that's the only thing they look at if it's been six months or longer," writes Matthew O'Brien at The Atlantic.

long term unemployed

Rand Ghayad and William Dickens

O'Brien says: "Long-term unemployment is a terrifying trap. Once you've been out of work for six months, there's little you can do to find work. Employers put you at the back of the jobs line, regardless of how strong the rest of your resume is. After all, they usually don't even look at it."

Basically, even when candidates had better credentials, they were not given an opportunity because they've been out of work for so long.

The research also found that hiring managers tend to discriminate against job hoppers as well, but this stigma is not as profound as someone who's been out of work for a few months.

employment job hoppers

Boston Fed

However, Evolv, a data provider that uses analytics to study employee retention, found in a separate report that there's no "statistically significant difference" when it comes to predicting someone's performance or tenure based on their previous work history. The report says:

"When comparing long-term employment history data with ultimate tenure across a population of over 100,000 applicants, there was virtually no difference in employment outcomes based on how many jobs a person had, or even how many short-term jobs they had previously."

What matters most in hires — and determines future success — is whether they're a cultural fit, and if they'll receive proper training and guidance from their direct managers.

Evolv's report was based on more than 7,000 hourly workers in the U.S. and Asia Pacific. Currently the company is in the process of analyzing the results as part of an ongoing collaboration with The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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