Highly Educated and Unemployed Life Journey. A blog about navigating the realities, struggles, and frustrations of life while unemployed—with a positive outlook. Opinion commentary pieces on unemployment and hiring plus informative articles & tips on life learning, career, well-being.
A few days ago, I read a blog post on job hunting, written specifically for ‘unemployed job seekers.’ What I found most problematic about it was: its unsolicited advice and argument—out of work persons shouldn’t stop looking for jobs for anything, including the holiday season.
Certainly, nothing’s wrong with the blogger/writer/”expert” advising her readers to continue their job searches during the holidays. But, something about this piece of content screamed insensitivity. Insensitivity toward the plight of those who are activelyunemployed. Insensitivity toward the humanity of adult persons who are going through unemployment, despite their desires to work. Insensitivity I’m all too familiar with from my own experiences. Insensitivity I’ve gotten better at mentally handling but still find disturbing.
The latest (July 2017) research by The I Z A Institute of Labor Economics reaffirms something we’ve known for some time now – from past labor and employment research and (possibly) experience: the longer you’re unemployed, the harder it is to find a job. But, it also goes one step further, providing insight into the thought patterns of those in hiring positions.
The lab experiment study, conducted by Eva Van Belle, Doctoral Researcher at Ghent University and other researchers from Ghent University (Professor Stijn Baert), KU Leuven (Professor Ralf Caers), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Lecturer Marijke De Couck), and the University of Oxford (Postdoctoral Researcher Valentina Di Stasio), evaluated the length of unemployment – using fictitious job candidates (differing in gender, educational attainment, work experience, and social activities) and participating HR professionals – on one’s chances of being hired. The participants, for the experiment, not only made hiring decisions, but also rated these qualified candidates based on their perceived characteristics: general signaling theory (lower motivation, intellectual and social capabilities), skill loss (or depreciation), queuing theory (lower trainability), and rational herding (based on the belief: if unemployed job applicants were productive, they would’ve been hired).
Three weeks ago, a relative suffered a traumatic injury from a bad accident. It didn’t look good, when he was first transported to the hospital. He suffered greatly from pain. But, through it all, I’ve been observing him fight back and endure with a strength no human gives.
Through my observations of his experience, I couldn’t help but reflect on the trauma of unemployment.
The job market has changed severely since the Great Recession (though massive layoffs occurred before). The United States’ unemployment rate still hovers at 5.0% (4.9% in the UK). What also hasn’t changed much, as recently reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, is the number of ‘unemployed persons’: 7.9 million.
Without question, this is a significant number of people dealing with unemployment. And the number of ‘long-term unemployed persons’ (those without jobs for 27 weeks or more) is worth noting: 2.0 million people.