How long do you have before being unemployed starts negatively impacting your ability to find a food & beverage job?

Try one month.

A new research article suggests that employers think less of unemployed job candidates – no matter how briefly they’ve been out of work, and regardless of whether they’ve quit or been laid off.

The article, titled “The Psychological Stigma of Unemployment: When Joblessness leads to Being Jobless,” cites several experiments that found bias against the jobless, virtually from the outset of unemployment.  For example, in one study, co-author Geoffrey C. Ho and his team asked 47 experienced HR professionals to review résumés that were identical in all ways, with a single exception:  half said the candidate was currently employed and half said the person had been out of work for a month.

The “currently employed” candidate received better marks for competence and hireability.

The harsh reality?  Unemployment discrimination is a troubling trend in hiring.  Despite numerous EEO laws and safeguards, some employers exclude qualified food & beverage job candidates from consideration, simply because of their employment status.  To these hiring managers, requiring that a candidate be gainfully employed is just “smart business” – helping them to control the flood of applications and to filter out “damaged goods” before spending valuable time and resources on screening and interviewing.

But if you’ve been unemployed for an extended period and are trying to find work, it’s hard to see the logic in a practice like this.

Now is a time to stay strong.  If you’re unemployed and looking for work, here is some sound advice for beating unemployment discrimination – before it beats you:

  • Forgive yourself – and move on.  Losing a job is nothing unusual, especially these days.  Mergers, cost-cutting measures and total shutdowns have forced countless people out of their jobs over the past few years.  Whatever your reason for being unemployed, you need a positive mindset to tackle what may be a tough job search.  The best thing you can do is forgive yourself for being out of work, and then move on.
  • If you’ve only been out of work for a short time (a few weeks or months), invest a lot of time and energy into networking and informational interviews.  This will help you get past the initial human resources screening that would eliminate you from consideration.
  • Ignore the verbiage in job posts that suggests an employer intends to discriminate based on recent employment status.  Just because the discriminatory language is present in a job listing doesn’t mean you have to adhere to the request!  If your job skills and experience are a good fit for the posting, by all means apply for that position – regardless of your employment situation.
  • Consider adjusting your résumé.  If you’ve been out of work for awhile, you may want to switch from a chronological to functional résumé format.  This will allow you to lead with your skills and qualifications, outside the context of your employment history.  You may also want to omit dates from your employment history section.  Once your skills have an employer’s attention, he can inquire about the dates.
  • Solidify references from previous employer(s).  When you’re unemployed, a strong endorsement from an employer – even one who let you go – may outweigh the length of your unemployment.
  • Work as an interim contract professional.  It’s easiest to find a job while you’re working, so stack the deck in your favor.  Beyond merely changing your employment status, working as an interim contract professional for Kinsa can help you earn extra income, avoid gaps on your résumé and keep your spirits up.  Additionally, while you’re working, Kinsa can actively search for direct positions that match your skills, experience and interests.

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