Jumat, 31 Januari 2014

Give the unemployed a break

One of the great degrading experiences in life is to be without a job, apply hopefully for one, and not even get a response. The sense of emptiness, the feeling of no hope, is a low point in life. If you are in a position of being able to hire, at least send a rejection note politely worded and pointing out why they didn't fit your requirements. Call as many as possible for an interview (just the mere fact of being called is a climb out of the pit of despair) . Treat them fairly even if you are not going to hire them. Please.

When there is a clear discrimination against you, it becomes even worse, and really hard to bear. All through the past, gender discrimination was a big issue. It's now still there, but has at least reduced, so much so that its not the biggest discriminating factor I believe. Two other categories suffer worse discrimination

- The "old". If you are above 45, you have no hope of getting a new job if you have lost your current one
- Those with a gap in their CV - either because they lost a job and couldn't get another one for some time or , for women, for taking a career break for children.

The former will be the subject matter of a future post, but this time I want to highlight the plight of those who have been unemployed for some time. A month or two is OK. When it crosses six months, then you virtually have lost all chance of  getting another job. This is especially acute in Europe and the US - research after research has shown that those unemployed for 6 months or more don't even get called for interviews even if overqualified for the job.

Obama has struck a deal with US companies who are agreeing to review their hiring practices to eliminate this discrimination. This is a good move in a country where post the financial crisis, many people lost their jobs and have had great difficulty in finding another one.

My argument has long been that companies should actively seek out such people rather than discriminate against them. Other things being equal, people to whom life has dealt a blow, are invariably better workers than those who have had a smooth time. When you have faced the bitter experience of unemployment, you will value the job much more. You work diligently and try your best to keep it rather than go on strike. You have a rounded attitude to life - you are likely to treat colleagues and business partners with more regard and respect. You are likely to take a more long term view. All extremely desirable qualities in employees. My experience in my working life has invariably been this - people who have struggled to get jobs, or who faced personal tragedies or who suffered on some account or the other were, almost without exception, better performers pound for pound. So much so that I started to positively discriminate in favour of them !!

So here is a plea. Treat those applying for a job with greater sensitivity and care. Even if there are 1000 applications for every job. And do not discriminate against the unemployed. Its a small cost to do this and it's the human thing to do. Especially if you mouth inanities as "people are my greatest asset" and crap like that. HR types - are you listening .

Its also a smart thing to do, for you never know when you would be on the other side of this equation.
Disqus Comments