Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ask The HR Chick- The Tricky Question

I am sure that some of you have seen the articles on CNN where employers are admitting to not wanting to hire the unemployed and are only interested in hiring people who already have jobs.

Personally this sickens me. In an economy when unemployment is hovering around 10%, to ignore this segment of the population is stupid and short sighted. It is also counterintutive. While many employers these days do not really seem to value showing their employees loyalty, the same employers really, really want loyal employees who are not going to jump at the first opportunity and leave them.

My question to these employers is " If someone is going to leave their job to come to you, why wouldn't they leave you to go to another job? "

So if you are one of the many, many people who are unemployed how do you work around this issue?

The first thing to consider is how to cover the gap in your resume. I have a few suggestions below, but I know my fabulous readers will have some great ideas as well:

1. Sign up at every temp agency in town and temp: You have something to put on the resume, and perhaps the temp opportunity will morph into something more permanent. However if you temp you are going to be doing a lot of the more menial chores. If you do decide to temp, I suggest that you check with unemployment (if you are collecting) to see how much you are permitted to earn each week before it messes with your State Unemployment Department. This will vary both by state and the amount of your unemployment.

If you do temp, please remember to send a thank you note at the end and a copy of your resume.

2. Along the lines of temping, another idea is to set yourself up as a project based consultant. Once again check with Unemployment about eligibility rules. If you go the consultant route, you will often be a 1099 employee so all taxes will be your obligation to handle. This website can be helpful if you are looking into the nuts and bolts of consulting.

3. Volunteer. Offering your services at organizations who need the help is a great way to get out of the house, meet people and expand your network and keep your skills fresh. Volunteermatch.org and idealist.org are places that will help match you with volunteer opportunities that will suit your needs.

The next issue to think about is how to present your job loss with a positive spin. While being laid off does not have the stigma that it once did, since it has happened to so many people, like Lucy, you will still have "some splainin' to do"

The 1st thing to think about is the how, when and why you were laid off. If you were the last hired and its company policy for last hired, 1st fired, you should mention that. If you survived several rounds of layoffs before you were laid off, or if your entire division was laid off at once, or your company went bankrupt, the resume would be a good place to mention that.

If you are interviewed be prepared to discuss the layoff. If you are still bitter or furious about losing your job, you will need to practice your story until you can tell it in a calm manner. People can smell desperate and bitter a mile away.

Being able to discuss your layoff in a non-confrontational, matter of fact way, free of bitterness, gives the potential employer reassurance that you are a good worker and were not laid off as an easy way to get rid of a problem employee. It also shows maturity and resilience.

One important caveat is that once you have your spin on events, you should make sure that your former employer has the same spin. Otherwise when it is time for the reference check, things could get hairy.

Email the people at your company responsible for references or employment verification. Let them know what you will be telling potential employers and you hope that they will say good things about you. I would then follow that up with a phone call if you do not get a response.

If you were not aware of the company's policy regarding references and employment verifications before you left the company, make sure you know them now.

Good luck out there to my unemployed friends. I am rooting for you everyday.

For those of you who wish to write or boycott companies that refuse to hire the unemployed, please visit Exquisite Humanity.

BTW: Hubman and I wrote a review of a Crystal Delight. Please check it out.

10 comments:

  1. Great post. Thanks for the tips and links :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Excellent advice ASM. Even though I don't work in HR anymore, I volunteer with a few of my local non-profits when they need an executive search or recruiter. If you don't mind, I'd add two things:

    1) Before you send a resume with your thank you note to a temp agency check with the agency's policies. Some firms have rules against a temp seeking employment from an assignment but more likely the contract betweent the agency and the client may have some type of payment clause from the client to the agency if they want to hire you, some can be as steep as 20% of the person's first years. annual salary.

    2) Beware of overstating what you're doing in the downtime in the cover letter or resume. You want to put everything in a positive light but if you've primarily been "Mr. or Mrs. Mom", don't write down something like "domestic engineer" or other such. Ditto for any odd jobs or lower skilled temporary positions.

    Finally, don't be worried about what you're doing either at a temp agency or volunteering. When we started our company 8 years ago and we needed some additional income, I temped for a few months. I have advanced degrees including HR and my "job" was to answer the phone and sort the mail, which I did cheerfully. It was skin off my nose and no reflection on who I was as a person, simply what I was doing for a few hours.

    And I agree, companies that are screening by employment status are not only short-sighted but hard-hearted and probably don't treat their employees any better than their prospective hires.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am doing the hiring for our company and this is not my first time on this task. It troubles me to hear that so many people are seeking work but put so little effort into trying to actually obtain the job. I posted a detailed ad stating our company's needs and the majority of the people show up and are looking for a "summer job". That means about less than a month. Seriously? The other thing that really gets me is the amount of people that don't even show for the interview. They waste my time communicating via email, and reviewing their resume, getting the address, confirming the interview date/time then don't even show. Out of 10 scheduled interviews last week only 4 showed! It kinda sucked for the people who did show after. See I take interviewing seriously, I review the resume and derive questions from the info they gave me. Then they don't show....annoying. So much so that I barely glance at the next resumes.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am still looking and it is driving me crazy because there is NOTHING around here and now I might have to travel 45 mins or more for a not so well paying job :(

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love this segment.
    I have been lucky enough to still be employed but I am in no way thinking things are secure.
    This information keeps me informed just in case.

    ReplyDelete
  6. DDD: Thank youl.

    IL: Thanks for the extra tips. I appreciate that. I forgot about the company being on the hook from the agency.

    RW: I have been doing HR for 12 years in high tech, day care, construction and government and I have yet to have someone blow off an interview. What industry are you in.

    HBAGP: I am sorry things do not look good. Let me know if I can do anything to help.

    PY: You can never be too prepared.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great ideas!! Having been running hot and cold on a new job search (yes, HB&GPs, the market there SUCKS!!), I finally decided to do the whole professional resume bit.. But the questionnaire was killer!! Good luck to us all!! :):)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for the tips! I'm secure (for the moment, at least) in my job, but my daughter just graduated from college. She can use these tips to get herself into the real world of work, and eventually into her chosen field.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hey HR Chick,

    what about a statute of limitations? i was recently called into the site manager's office "close the door" deal and told that my name was involved as part of a hostile work environment investigation by corporate and that i needed to take some remedial ethics training and sign some paperwork that we have had this discussion (along with the corporate HR dude in the room). Any way i had no idea what was going on and my head was spinning "WTF?". Turns out that I was included in a sweeping accusation from a new young lady (maybe six months) for something I said to my wife at the company christmas party last January. Give me a break, I doubt that there was anyone i didn't offend at the christmas party if you know what i mean (no excuse). My wife says that she will never attend another company function because what we were talking about was of a sexual nature and she does volunteer work with teens so she does not want her name dragged into anything that may jeopardize or tarnish any sort of background check that is periodically necessary for working with kids.

    So then i hear from the Site Director's AA that it was like this young lady had a notebook as was taking notes regarding everything that might have offended her from day one.

    Now they said that none of this was going into my personnel file and was all "off the record" (yeah right). so i guess my question to you is how much will this hurt my reputation at corporate where they do not know each individual for the hard work that they do, but just by statistics? to me this is an obvious scam by a smart young lady to get some big money in a settlement. But more importantly, i don't want to think that anything i ever said or did actually hurt someone's feeling or made them uncomfortable. that really bugs me.

    What is your opinion?

    And lastly I am a new fan and do not feel sorry about your nine week separation from the Hub. As a retired Air Force officer, i spent many days, months, and years separated from my wife and babies. but it was in defense of my country and something i believed in. nine weeks is a drop in the bucket compared to a lifetime of love and companionship so save the drama and the homemade cookies (but feel free to send some my way). And the bottom line is that it is being done for a reason he believes in, which is providing for his family the best way he knows how. it is a man thing that is hardwired in our brains from the dawn of time, to provide for our family.

    thanks for your time

    Tulsa Yankees Fan

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hey HR Chick,

    what about a statute of limitations? i was recently called into the site manager's office "close the door" deal and told that my name was involved as part of a hostile work environment investigation by corporate and that i needed to take some remedial ethics training and sign some paperwork that we have had this discussion (along with the corporate HR dude in the room). Any way i had no idea what was going on and my head was spinning "WTF?". Turns out that I was included in a sweeping accusation from a new young lady (maybe six months) for something I said to my wife at the company christmas party last January. Give me a break, I doubt that there was anyone i didn't offend at the christmas party if you know what i mean (no excuse). My wife says that she will never attend another company function because what we were talking about was of a sexual nature and she does volunteer work with teens so she does not want her name dragged into anything that may jeopardize or tarnish any sort of background check that is periodically necessary for working with kids.

    So then i hear from the Site Director's AA that it was like this young lady had a notebook as was taking notes regarding everything that might have offended her from day one.

    Now they said that none of this was going into my personnel file and was all "off the record" (yeah right). so i guess my question to you is how much will this hurt my reputation at corporate where they do not know each individual for the hard work that they do, but just by statistics? to me this is an obvious scam by a smart young lady to get some big money in a settlement. But more importantly, i don't want to think that anything i ever said or did actually hurt someone's feeling or made them uncomfortable. that really bugs me.

    What is your opinion?

    And lastly I am a new fan and do not feel sorry about your nine week separation from the Hub. As a retired Air Force officer, i spent many days, months, and years separated from my wife and babies. but it was in defense of my country and something i believed in. nine weeks is a drop in the bucket compared to a lifetime of love and companionship so save the drama and the homemade cookies (but feel free to send some my way). And the bottom line is that it is being done for a reason he believes in, which is providing for his family the best way he knows how. it is a man thing that is hardwired in our brains from the dawn of time, to provide for our family.

    thanks for your time

    Tulsa Yankees Fan

    ReplyDelete