What you can do about discrimination against the unemployed.

unemployment discriminationIf you have lost your job one of your concerns may be the employment gap on your resume. Most companies you will interview with will ask you to explain the employment gap. That is, if you get the interview in the first place. The February 17, 2011 Yahoo! News article "Help Wanted - jobless need not apply" stated "Job-placement professionals say that over the last year, more and more employers have made it clear they won't consider job candidates who aren't working." "Some employers have said they're unwilling to hire unemployed workers because they believe that if a worker has once been let go, that's a sign that he or she is probably not a great hire."

"And as Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke has said, when people are out of work for a long time, their skills can erode, which may understandably make them
less attractive to employers."

Do you think that discrimination against job seekers who are unemployed is prevalent enough to write a law banning it?
That is the question many states are debating right now. New Jersey recently passed a law making it illegal for employers to discriminate against the unemployed in print and Internet job advertisements, and assesses fines against companies violating the law. Currently, there is no federal law that says a company can’t discriminate against the unemployed. That means if you are not currently working, and apply for a job with Company XYZ, there is nothing stopping them from saying you are ineligible for employment simply because you don’t have a current job.

Some states are looking for ways to put an end to that, such as New Jersey mentioned above, and New York, where Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins stated, “It is fundamentally unfair for employers to refuse to hire, or even accept applications from individuals who are out of work. With the unemployment rate in the State still at staggeringly high levels, this prevents people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own from getting back on their feet. It is
discriminatory, it is wrong and it must not continue”.

Would you even know if you were discriminated against?
Any discrimination against those who are jobless is usually a silent slight. That is to say employers don't have to be as blatant as printing in their job ads their preference for those who are already employed. You may not even know that your resume was rejected because of an employment gap. On the other hand some employers have followed the lead of 1860s store owners who posted the sign "NINA" on their storefront windows (NINA = No Irish Need Apply). For example, consider a recent job fair in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Discrimination at a Pennsylvania job fair?
Adam Sikes attended a June, 2011, job fair in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He arrived early and filled out a "pre-screening form" as directed by one of the event representatives who signed him in. After completing his form he joined about 20 other job seekers for a briefing conducted by the job fair organizers before entering the main job fair area. Adam, unemployed for 5 months, was somewhat stunned when the group was told that anyone who was unemployed or self-employed would not be considered for employment by the primary company hosting the job fair. If you were unemployed or self-employed you were welcome to visit with the other employers, but not with the host company representatives!

A solution to an employment gap.
Taking part-time work while searching for full-time work may benefit you with additional income (you can earn x amount of money while unemployed without losing your unemployment benefits) and having a current
job to list on your resume. Remember you don't list how many hours you work on your resume; you list the jobs you are holding or have held. An employer reviewing your application may not know you are only working 15 hours a week, but will see that you are a working, that someone else believes you are employable.

Holding a part-time
job while you search for full time work could also provide you with new skills, new contacts, and new ideas in addition to building your resume and your household income. Find more solutions to the employment gap here.

 
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