Unemployed, Not “Unemployable”

Have you ever received a job application from someone who isn’t currently working? Were you quick to move it to the bottom of the pile? Do you equate “unemployed” with “unemployable”? Be honest.

It’s ok to admit that we’re biased. We are biased, it’s human nature. It’s easy to continue doing the things we’re familiar with. It’s easy to stay in the comfort zone.

The best way to change our mindset, and start doing something different, is to realize that’s in our best interests to do so. For example, convincing leaders that diverse companies perform better – they do, by the way – is a very compelling argument to build a diverse company. Much more so that doing it for compliance reasons, which becomes a statistic game.

So, rather than appealing to your sense of duty, I’m going to make a case that hiring someone unemployed can be a good thing for your company. Here are five reasons you should seriously consider an application from someone who isn’t currently employed by another company.

#1 – Hunger

Not having a safety net tends to sharpen our instincts. We become more determined than ever because the alternative is bleak. Determination is a great attribute in a new team member. Give me someone hungry any day.

Think about it. Hungry people are more likely to try harder. They are more likely to make the most of each opportunity. When people try their best almost anything is possible. Harness that hunger and turn it into passion.

#2 – Reflection

When people have a break for the day-to-day grind – whether it’s a forced break or a voluntary one – they have time to reflect. This is often a good thing.

Taking a step back and reflecting on what is important to us is both healthy and productive. We come out the other side with a renewed sense of purpose. We become energized.

When people have a high degree of clarity and purpose they tend to perform. They have a personal mission and, if it aligns with your company’s mission it’s a match made in heaven.

#3 – Parents

Sometimes we take time off work to care for children. Often times it’s women, but increasingly men are acting as primary carers for their newborns.

Aside from being the right thing to do, it’s smart to hire people after they’ve been on parental leave and to be a company that accommodates parents and families.

First, becoming a parent is kind of like doing a degree and serving in the military at the same time. Trust me, I’ve done all three. Parents acquire incredible new skills, and they do it at speed and without a safety net. Parents learn how to figure things out on a dime, how to negotiate, how to make the most of time and, importantly, they develop empathy. These are extremely valuable qualities in any team member.

Second, everyone else in your team will see that you care about something bigger than short term profits. They’ll see that you prioritize what they care about. That is a powerful motivator.

#4 – Resilience

People who have been out of work or changed careers have experienced rejection. It’s not easy, but it’s a necessary part of life. As a founder or CEO, rejection is unavoidable. We hear “no” from customers, investors and the media. If you are leader, you’re used to it. It never feels good but it’s important to learn from each rejection in order to avoid the next one.

Look out for people who have learned from rejection and developed resilience. You’ll know two things about them. First, they won’t crumble at the first sign of trouble. Second, they will have a strong sense of personal awareness, which means they’ll be more likely to improve at a fast rate.

#5 – Work Is Changing

Once upon a time we each worked for one company, full time, in one physical location. It’s not like that anymore. Today we collaborate in so many different ways. We work freelance or part time. We work on projects with multiple companies at the same time. We work remotely.

Just because someone isn’t working “full time,” it doesn’t mean they’re not being hugely productive, albeit in an unconventional way. Don’t judge people by the logos behind them. Look into what they’re doing and what they care about.

The next amazing innovator is just as likely to be found outside a company than inside one. Probably more likely.

Pay It Forward by Hiring Unemployed Workers

I promised this article would focus on reasons hiring someone unemployed will be good for your company, not just your soul. But guess what, it’s both.

When you step outside your comfort zone, or when you give someone a chance, good things happen. People get inspired. You feel alive.

Do it.

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Amy C. Waninger Author Bio

Amy C. Waninger is the Founder & CEO of Lead at Any Level, where she improves employee engagement and retention for companies that promote from within. Amy offers assessments, advisory services, and training on essential skills for inclusive leaders. She is the author of eight books. Learn more at www.LeadAtAnyLevel.com

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