Rethink Recruiting

It’s Time to Cut Off the Rule of Thumb About Not Hiring the Unemployed

Even when they have skills and resumes equivalent to other job candidates, people with long-term unemployment on their record are often excluded altogether from job opportunities. Ultimately this marginalization of the long-term unemployed is bad for both employers and employees.
Today’s companies, especially in industries like biotech and pharmaceuticals, need skilled and educated workers. In many cases, those skilled and educated workers can be found among the long-term unemployed.

Passive Job Candidates Are Great, But They’re Not Everything

When many hiring managers envision hiring their dream candidate, they may imagine someone who is already employed and doing amazing things. But while these passive job candidates are coveted, they’re not everything. In fact, if you focus too closely on passive job candidates you may miss some terrific workers who are actively looking for careers in the pharmaceutical, medical device, or biotech industries. One reason for this is that employers have been able to opportunistically elevate education requirements within occupations due to high unemployment during the 2008 recession. Here’s what happened.

The 2008 Recession Changed Everything

Since September of 2014, unemployment has been below 6%, which is considered “full employment.” But the share of adults who have jobs has risen more slowly than the unemployment rate has fallen and is still lower than it was from 1984 to 2009. Since 2007, the share of the population participating in the labor market has fallen, and it shows little sign of reversing. With employers raising educational requirements due to a glut of applicants during the worst of the recession, medium-skilled workers have had difficulty getting back into the workforce. Younger, presumably less expensive, workers have taken many of these jobs. The result is that many of these medium-skilled workers either recover in jobs that don’t use their skills, or they give up and leave the workforce altogether.

Prejudices Against the Long Term Unemployed Are Outdated

Assumptions that may have held up prior to 2008 are outdated today. These outdated prejudices prevent companies from hiring what may be outstanding people. Adding to the problem, the automated pre-screening tools in many applicant tracking systems rule out workers who have been unemployed for more than a few months. This sets up a perpetual downward cycle, where skilled, talented people remain unemployed, becoming less employable as time goes on. The longer they remain without work, the more their skills may languish. So it’s important for companies to understand when their hiring tools may be costing them good candidates due to rules in their applicant tracking systems that are not relevant today.


Could your applicant tracking tools be screening out some very good job candidates?

Skills-Based Hiring Makes the Most Sense

What has always ultimately made the most sense is skills-based hiring. This, in theory, produces better candidates who are more closely matched with employer needs. In practice, it confers even more benefits, including significant reductions in both time-to-hire and turnover, reducing hiring costs and time required for training new hires. The problem for the hiring manager is how to find these people. How do you locate the highly skilled worker who, due to no fault of their own, has been out of the workforce for an extended period of time? This is where specialists like pharmaceutical recruiters enter the picture.

Excellent Recruiters Use All Appropriate Sources

Connecting with potential job candidates who don’t necessarily show up on the employment grid is challenging. However, experienced specialty recruiters have the networks and the “curation” skills to be able to source talent in a cost- and time-efficient manner, often from channels to which the hiring manager or HR professional does not have access. For example, recruiters may work with state-level unemployment bureaus as well as local public and nonprofit intermediaries that have amassed significant data on job skills and work experience in their communities.

By working with specialty recruiters in pharmaceuticals, biotech, or other talent-hungry sectors, businesses can reduce their overall sourcing costs and streamline the hiring process. The right recruiter knows exactly how to find qualified, pre-screened candidates, including those who have stepped out of the workforce. Aversion to hiring the unemployed makes far less sense today when you consider the economic and demographic factors that contribute to highly skilled people being out of the workforce. If you’re ready to start your candidate search, we hope you’ll contact us at any time.

About Rethink Recruiting

The recruiting landscape is changing as a result of technology, culture, and the increasing demands for unique skills and experience in emerging fields. Rethink Recruiting provides insights about trends and strategies to maximize your talent potential.

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