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.