What’s the Hiring Bias that No One Talks About?

Emily McKinney
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Whether you just lost your job or you couldn’t take it anymore and quit, the one thing you probably aren’t thinking about is the unspoken bias that might work against you – the long-term unemployment bias.

Long-term unemployment, defined as an unemployment period of 27 weeks or more, is already stressful enough for job seekers. Besides the lack of income and benefits, you also now have the bias of hiring managers working against you. Unemployment bias is when a hiring manager thinks a candidate is unemployable because they’ve been unemployed for several weeks. They think, consciously or not, that the job seeker must be a problem if no one has hired them yet.

While rationally, we know this isn’t necessarily the case, it’s a touchy subject that people deal with regularly. In fact, 1.3M individuals were long-term unemployed in December 2018. With unemployment bias affecting so many people, can it be combatted? Luckily, the answer is yes.

One way to fight this form of bias is to stay busy while job hunting. Fill in resume gaps with volunteering experience. Bonus points if it’s directly related to your field. You can also work on things related to your field as a hobby. For example, if you’re a writer, start and maintain your own blog so you have something to show for your time off. And lastly, if your employment gap is long for reason, like caring for a family member, explain that! Hiring managers are open to hearing you out. You can incorporate this information into your cover letter so your application doesn’t get overlooked.

Whether it’s fair or not, bias exists. We often hear about gender bias, or age bias, but not unemployment bias. So, if you’re experiencing unemployment bias, know that you’re not alone – and then take the necessary steps to fill in your resume or address the issue head on. By staying busy or explaining the reason for your gap, you can overcome this bias and finally land that job you’ve been searching for.  


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  • Carol W.
    Carol W.

    James P - I filled out an application today that used the sneaky trick of HS graduation date and I dummyed the information and blasted them in a survey they requested for Applicant Feedback. Everyone brags about their being EEO employers but IMHO that is BS! Good strong lawsuits for discrimination might help but it is nigh impossible to prove.

  • Marilyn B.
    Marilyn B.

    No risk, no reward. I liquidated my retirement fund to go back to school for certifications in Six Sigma Green Belt, Scrum Master, and a very expensive certification as a "Professional in Business Intelligence." I'm still looking for work after 16 years at Freddie Mac in Contracting Operations. I can only hope the investment will pay off.

  • Tony P.
    Tony P.

    Thank you for the resume service .

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Michael Midkiff thanks for your comments. Sorry about the current job. In answer to your question, yes that are legit remote jobs where you can make a decent salary. You just have to weed through all of the ones that say they are legit but are really scams. If a position is legitimate, why would the posting have to say it's "legit"? That's how I look at it. If I see a posting that says it's legit, I move on. Finding a true remote job takes time and a lot of research. If you find one that looks promising, check them out. Check them on LinkedIn or Glassdoor or just look for reviews of the company or any other information you can find out. If you feel like it's a real job, apply for it. It depends upon what you are looking for. There are a ton of customer service type positions that require you to be on the phone all day. Some folks like that sort of work. There are many sales positions, also, if you feel like you can sell. But be careful on these because most of them are commission only. Never send money for a job, either. If they are asking for you to pay, it's not legit. @Tanya H. thanks for your support of Michael!!!

  • Tanya H.
    Tanya H.

    It's ok,we ALWAYS have to have and outlet so we can express our self..Because by holding it,it can cost BODY damage to other parts THAT is not good...
    Now breathe and keep it moving....LOVE & RESPECT

  • Michael Midkiff
    Michael Midkiff

    I’m sorry wrong area to post that question however it’s kind of related, I’m at the leaving stages of a company’s thatvi invested the last 5 years of my life. Reason’s I’m leaving are many but my main reason is that I’m turning 53 yrs old. And since I have been employed for this company, I have had to go into the hospital once for 3 days due to blood circulati

  • Michael Midkiff
    Michael Midkiff

    Are there really any legit stay at home jobs that you can make a decent salary to survive with a family of 3

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for all of the great comments. @Lorraine Ginader you are absolutely correct. If only we could convey this to every hiring manager! All we can do is keep trying. Write a resume to make us look as young as possible - just so that we can get in for the interview and then we can sell ourselves. It is certainly financially prudent for companies to hire the more mature worker. We are done needing maternity leave or FMLA (in most case). We don't just not show up for an interview or just not report for work - this is known as ghosting and has become quite popular with the younger workers. Employers need to know that we won't do that! That we are dedicated, responsible and accountable. That's what you have to convey @John D, @Don H, @David O. and @James P. Even though an application may require a HS grad date, we can still show our worth in both our resume and our cover letter. @James P - list birthday is probably not legal. You could probably reach out to that company and bring that matter to their attention. Bottom line is to show your true worth, not your age. And, if you have been without a job for some time, try volunteering in your community and then add that to your resume. The current bias is that companies don't want to hire someone who is idle because they feel that they won't be competitive, will need extra time to come up to speed and so on. You just have to make sure that they know that's not the case by adding a line or two in your cover letter. Not saying that will turn the tide but it might start to open some doors.

  • Richard Hayes
    Richard Hayes

    You Are very Well Correct

  • Lorraine Ginader
    Lorraine Ginader

    Lorie Ginader: I agree with the first 2 entries and it is outside the realm of common sense. If you consider we have had mostly Presidents above 60 years of age. And life experience is so rich in seniors, they are mature and able to handle many of the human interactions that younger less mature workers can. If a senior is healthy, qualified and eager to work it would be foolish to not hire them. It is also a fact that seniors are more reliable, responsible and cause less disruption within the workplace than younger employees. It is financially prudent to hire experience, qualified seniors if you are lucky enough to find them.

  • John D.
    John D.

    I was laid off last May. I'm 65 I never get replays more than Thank you for applying.

  • Don H.
    Don H.

    Can't find work to old 61. Carpenter for 38 years

  • DAVID O.
    DAVID O.

    Age and disabilities.

  • James P.
    James P.

    I am 61 and have worked in manufacturing all of my work career. Now I am blocked out of the market because of my age. Some of the dirty tricks used - "List Birthday", "Year of High School Graduation". Most HR departments are populated by the under 35 goup - Like hires Like. Grey hairs signify a "Do not hire - not a person I want around"

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Brian Chapman thanks for your comment. What is happening today is that companies want to hire workers who are currently employed. They feel, rightly or wrongly, that those who are unemployed are not up to date with current technology. They want to hire a person who is currently working in that industry because they feel that the person's knowledge and experience will be current and they can hit the ground running. With an unemployed candidate, it's kind of hit or miss. @Victoria R. Thanks for your comment also. I'm not sure why contract positions would degrade your work history? I would think that as long as you are working, that companies would be interested because they know that they can hire you and you can work immediately vice someone who has been unemployed for a length of time and could be rusty on their skills. I do agree that it's a sad state of affairs. It gets to me every day when I hear about how low our unemployment rates are and how companies are desperate for workers? Can't figure that one out, either. But you can't give up. Keep searching. Keep applying to jobs. While you are searching, if you can, do some volunteer work in your community. You can add that to your resume. Companies like a well-rounded candidate and volunteering while job searching is something they look for.

  • Victoria R.
    Victoria R.

    Sadly we are expected to work till were in our 70's but NO ONE WILL HIRE AN OLDER INDIVIDUAL!!!! Not to mention contract positions have severely degraded my work history profile as employers see this and assume i'm a JOB Hopper. as well as recruiters misrepresent the position duration. so now it will take me another year to secure a position only to find out i'm laid off in 4 months. The Situation in the job market is dire for young and old none of us can afford to maintain a home of our own, were forced to live in rooming houses. SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS


    Unless candidate is sitting around how can the bias be against the unemployed? Amazing...the recruting cycle is admittedly broken by both HR & Recruting.

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