unemployed have no skills; unemployed are incompetent; unemployed lack skills; unemployment result of unemployed lacking skills needed for jobs

Myth Check 102: The Unemployed Are Incompetent

Incompetent and Lacking Skills

We, the unemployed, are not only considered lazy, but we’re also considered incompetent. Have you heard?

If you haven’t heard, let’s discuss this “skills gap” misconception of the unemployed.

People assume the unemployed, specifically the long-term unemployed, are unemployed because we have no practical skills. The blame for our unemployment situation is placed on our incompetence.

Skills Shortage Claim Toward Unemployed Job Seekers

How much of this is truth?

Is long-term unemployment the result of incompetence?

Do we really lack the skills or competence needed to perform certain job tasks?

unemployed have no skills; unemployed are incompetent; unemployed lack skills; unemployment result of unemployed lacking skills needed for jobs
Myth Check 102: The Unemployed Are Incompetent
Unsplash Original Photo Courtesy of Aleksi Tappura. Edited by Me.

I don’t think so. Many among the ranks of the unemployed possess great skills and a willingness to learn.

We all have some kind of skills acquired through education and/or experience, so there’s more to this than the unemployed lacking skills.

In his New York Times article, Jobs and Skills and Zombies, Paul Krugman, an Economist, states the following:

“At this point, we know a lot about the long-term unemployed, and they’re pretty much indistinguishable in skills from laid-off workers who quickly find new jobs. So what’s their problem? It’s the very fact of being out of work, which makes employers unwilling even to look at their qualifications.”

So, it’s safe to conclude there’s no skills shortage of the unemployed as many of us are competent and qualified.

Employers must have an open mind when it comes to hiring and understand discriminatory acts – such as embracing the skills gap myth – against the unemployed doesn’t benefit them.

Rusty Skills and the Job Search

When acknowledged, the skills of the long-term unemployed are considered outdated, or rusty, as we have been out of the workforce for so long.

I’ll say this: many of the skills relevant to the workforce are used regularly by job seekers outside of the workforce. You might be wondering, “What is she talking about?”

Consider this.

Examples of workforce skills include:

  • Administrative
  • Communication and Interpersonal
  • Computer/Technical
  • Research
  • Time-Management
  • Organization

Job seekers use these skills regularly in the job search process.

  • Administrative and Computer– Job seekers use these skills to respond to e-mails for interview set-ups and confirmations. They’re also needed to write cover letters and resumes for jobs.
  • Communication and Interpersonal– Job seekers use these skills to communicate with hiring departments by phone or e-mail.
  • Research– Job seekers use this skill to identify organizations and their available job openings. We also use this skill to research organizations and interviewers prior to interviews.
  • Organization– Job seekers use this skill to keep track of job submissions, dates submitted, cover letters and resumes sent for each position, and so on.

So, as you can see now, not only do we keep our skills up-to-date in other activities, we keep them up-to-date in the job search process.

Do you agree?

Are These Things Really to Blame?

In an economy that has seen an unemployment rate of at least 7 % over the past 5 years, should the long-term unemployed continue to be blamed for our inability to secure jobs?

Is it necessary for the critics to bombard us with the incompetent negativity? Is this helping the unemployment issue in any way?

I want the naysayers to know this: not all of us are without employment due to a lack of skills and a lack of competence to fulfill job responsibilities.

I will present another perspective to you.

We are experiencing life. In this life, all of us will experience a hardship or crisis situation in one or several forms. Unemployment happens to be one of these experiences of the long-term unemployed.

To my fellow long-term unemployed:

From Me to You: Don’t let any of this negativity take a toll on you emotionally. You must keep pushing through by faith!

What do you think about this misconception of the long-term unemployed?

Disclaimer: This article contains an outgoing link to the work of Paul Krugman, an Economist, on the New York Times website.