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Is There a Bias Against the Long Term Unemployed?

March 9, 2013 by Lady Unemployed

Help wanted sign

February of 2012, a week before Valentine’s Day to be exact, I got laid off. This was a month after my older brother lost his job at a company that got bought out (therefore, everyone at the corporate office lost their job).

In August of 2012, only 6 months unemployed (the longest I’ve ever been out of work, to be honest), I found a job. It’s a job I’ve struggled with, but it was a job.

And according to an article I found on the Daily Beast, that’s all that matters these days to future employers. The Daily Beast goes onto explain that those who are unemployed for the long term don’t find their way back to work as easy as those who find a job a lot quicker.

This left me to wonder – is there a bias against the long term unemployed?

My brother has not found a job yet and it has now been over a year. I’m not sure what to say and while my blog has talked a lot about job searching, working through office politics, and the ups and downs of job searching and networking – my brother’s unemployment is a subject I’ve avoided talking about. Mostly because I’m worried – and a little scared – for him. Weeks have gone by without calls. Employers who have interviewed him – and even if the interview has gone well – never call him back.

Some time last year I was on Google Plus, and I found someone’s post that had been forwarded along to hundreds. She had requested that her profile be passed along to everyone that we knew. She said she would move anywhere and do anything as long as she could have a job. She had been unemployed over a year as well.

NYC Council has also just this past month banned the bias against the unemployed that was happening in their city.

Business Week is also talking about the subject. Those who have been out longer than 6 months are not getting responses to their resume. And apparently, it isn’t even illegal to look at employment status when considering a resume.

My brother is not the only one facing this bias. Neither is this woman I saw online.

Something is wrong with our society that employers don’t want to hire someone just because they are out of work.

Here is one idea that I have Рmoney talks, right? So, how about giving a tax benefit or something to employers who hire the unemployed. (Apparently, I googled this idea and the American Jobs Act matched my requested. Yet, for some reason it got shot down).

But I’m open to ideas. I know a lot of us are. But the status quo is not acceptable.

At least, it shouldn’t be.

What do you think? Is there a bias against the unemployed? Do you have first hand experience with this bias?


  1. I’ve been actively looking for a job for quite some time. I took a long term sub position at the place I used to work at, but they aren’t hiring and won’t be any time soon. This has been the only thing that has even come close to a job in the last seven months that I have looking. I was laid off at the end of June. I don’t know if it’s bias or just that so many people are applying that the ones with the most experience are the ones getting the interviews. I have a college degree and can’t even land a retail job!

    • That’s awful you have to go through that. I think it is just a lot of competition out there these days. I just wish there can be something done about so many people out of work. I wish you luck and if you ever want to post your story, feel free to email me!

    • Oh that’s a nightmare!! I hope you land something soon… I do think that there is an ass load of competition and that seriously doesn’t help.

  2. Vinny C says:

    I got let go from the newspaper I worked for last April & it took me 9 months to get another job. The pay sucks & it’s in administration, which I hate, but I can’t afford to be picky.

    I read pretty much the same articles about it getting harder to get employed the longer you stayed unemployed. The job market’s been tight since the economic downturn a few years back. I suspect employers are still using that as an excuse to keep their own expenses down by hiring fewer workers.

  3. Jess says:

    Here’s the deal on long term unemployment… the stigma is fading. In this economy, employers are well aware that people are staying unemployed for extended periods of time. What’s important now is what you’re doing with that time. Have you been watching soaps and eating bon bons or have you been out in the community, volunteering your times to whatever cause you’re passionate about.

    Companies are very interested in community relations. They want employees that have interests outside of the office and who reach out to the community to assist those who need it. Whether it’s volunteering at the local animal shelter or building homes with Habitat For Humanity – get out there and show that you’ve been using your “down time” wisely.

    The other thing that potential employers want to see is that you’re keeping up your skill set. Taking free classes through the unemployment office or through programs like Charlotte ProNet (aka Charlotte Works).

    That said.. it also depends on what level of employment you’re going after. A factory worker? They don’t give a rat’s ass what you’re doing on your own time. An entry level corporate office worker? They’ll be interested in community outreach but will be weary of someone who appears to be ambitious and won’t stay in the position for long. Project Management, mid to upper level management, C suite? Own that volunteer time and educate yourself while you’re not working.

    And after all of that… fake it until you make it. Slap a smile on your face, practice interviewing (I interview for jobs I don’t want just so I can practice interviewing) so that when your dream job comes along you are prepared. And don’t forget the importance of the resume! It is worth it to pay someone to help you write it if you need to!

  4. I have been in that situation, and I have found that it depends – are you looking in the same industry, or changing altogether. I was the former for a while, but switched when it became a shrinking market. I found an opportunity in something completely different and it has become my career.

    Personally, if I saw a large gap in between jobs, I would ask what they have been doing. Not as an insult or to lead them into the ‘looking for work’ answer no one is advised to give- rather to see how a person uses their unexpected length of time to learn, grow, and keep productive and involved, which keeps their spirits and attitude up.

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