Job seeking while unemployed no longer the worst thing you can do

Being unemployed once made you unemployable. Thanks to COVID-19, Job seeking while unemployed is not the worst thing you can do anymore.

If you’re looking for a job, don’t be afraid to tap your network and let people know you’re unemployed. It’s OK to do that now. Things have changed, for the time being at least.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a major hiring bias against the unemployed. Research found that being unemployed for more than a few months dramatically decreased a candidate’s chances of getting hired. Now that millions of people have lost their jobs because of the pandemic, this is no longer the case.

Job seekers didn’t get the memo

New data, however, seems to suggest that job seekers haven’t gotten the memo. A LinkedIn survey of 2,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 74 who became unemployed between March and October of this year found that people are feeling lonely, stressed, and worried, and that their situation may be putting a strain on their relationships. The survey also found: “One of the biggest disconnects between the reality of getting hired and the perception of job seekers is centered on the stigma tied to unemployment.”

Of those surveyed, LinkedIn reports, 84% believe there is a stigma associated with being out of work and roughly two-thirds (67%) believe that stigma is affecting their ability to find a new job. But a separate survey of 1,000 hiring managers tells a different story. That survey found that 96% would hire a candidate who was laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic (one has to wonder what’s up with the other 4%. Why would they not hire someone who was laid off die to COVID?). And most recruiters seem to agree that the stigma is no longer. How could it be when the best and brightest all around the world are suddenly finding themselves unemployed?

Nearly half of people have lied about being out of work

Unfortunately, the threat has left its mark. More findings include:

  • 46% of survey respondents have lied about being out of work.
  • 51% have avoided a social event because of the way they feel about being out of work.
  • 24% are embarrassed about being unemployed
  • 23% felt uneasy
  • 15% felt ashamed.

This means that job seekers aren’t taking full advantage of all the options available to them, which include posting about your situation on social media and asking your network for help.

Less than half of survey respondents (42%) have reached out to existing connections; 39% have asked people in their networks, such as friends and former colleagues, for introductions to other people; and even fewer than that, just 35%, have been making their own introductions to new connections. This despite the finding that 82% said networking is vitally important for finding a new job.

While half of respondents have posted on social media about being unemployed or looking for a job, those who haven’t said they don’t feel comfortable sharing publicly that they’re out of work, some because they were ashamed or embarrassed.

Hiring managers public posting shows resourcefulness

As for how hiring managers view posting publicly about looking for a job, 48% said doing so shows resourcefulness, while “between 30% to 40%” (which is a weirdly vague number but that’s what it says) said it conveys proactive problem-solving skills and confidence.

Silver lining?

This may be one of those small silver linings to come out of this pandemic. Already, employers can no longer pretend that most jobs require office presence and can’t be done from home, and now maybe the bias against the unemployed will disappear. It’s always been unfair and has created untenable situations for people who want, and need, to work, and who may be unemployed for any number of reasons. By the time the economy recovers completely, many of those who once held this bias may also find themselves unemployed and in future, should they again be in hiring positions, may take a more sympathetic view.

In the meantime, you’re free to shout from the rafters that you’re unemployed and in need of work. Use all of the resources available to you, including your network.

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