Come a little closer, yes you!
Do I have to shout?
Don’t pretend, you know me, you were thrown into my army before! Yes, my name is Joblessness, some call me ‘the unemployed’. My soldiers and I have been stigmatized, some are so beaten down by rejection and shame they are now assuming something must be wrong with them. So many research done and articles written on their long term affiliation with me that they feel they are no longer desirable to employers. Results from surveys show startling evidence that even recruiters and hiring managers sometimes are pressured by decision makers to dismiss a soldier based on our long-term relationship. It is appalling to think that employers don’t even want to look at resumes of highly qualified applicants who have been in my army for 6 months or more!
Now that I have your attention, let me reintroduce myself, my name is joblessness, and I am the general for the army called PERSEVERANCE. I don’t recruit soldiers, they are thrown into my army by the thousands. This could be due to getting laid off, fired, sickness, and the list goes on. Over the last two years, my army has tripled in size due to the economic downturn. Do you think I want this job! It is hard and overwhelming, currently there are over 4 million soldiers in my army, and nearly 40 percent are now long-term soldiers. No matter how hard they try to move on, they are constantly turned down. Employers, you are making my job even harder by overlooking and excluding my soldiers from job opportunities. HR professionals, I implore you, take more steps to ensure that your recruiting and hiring practices do not intentionally or inadvertently exclude my soldiers due to their relationship with me.
Do I sound angry? You are right I am. I take pride in what I do, I train my soldiers well, yet their skills are overlooked. There are alternatives here, just work with me. Rather than setting aside their resumes because you see employment gaps, analyze the skills and experience they obtained through their previous jobs, and especially these 5 skills they are taught and must use to survive in the army of PERSEVERANCE.
- Drive- When soldiers are thrown into my army, especially when it is no fault of their own, their self-esteem gets derailed. Yes, it gets even worst the longer they stay. But I teach them drive! I teach them how to keep cool under pressure, to keep moving, how to never, never, never give in! Therefore, my soldiers brings hungry and drive into your workforce because most went through hell, and they never want to go back!
- Objectivity– Overcoming the stigma of being in my army long-term, and staying positive requires objectivity. My soldiers are taught not to take the experience personal. When they apply for 10 jobs and get only rejection letters, go to interviews and never get called back, I teach them not to take it personal, not to internalize it, just change strategy.
- Determination- The difference between my soldiers and the employed is not a lack of strength, or knowledge, it is a lack of will overtime. But I make it my duty to teach them determination. Being in my army is challenging, and in order to survive it, my soldiers have to practice a great deal of discipline and determination.
- Humor- Yes, there is a sense of shame and dishonor in joblessness, and people look at my soldiers differently. Therefore, I teach my soldiers humor, they use it for bonding, releasing tension, and building network.
- Authenticity―Surviving my army is soul-crushing and depressing, the stigma attached makes my soldiers outsiders in the employed world. It robs my soldiers of their dignity and self-respect. But it teaches them patience, humility, non-judgment, and most importantly, authenticity. After being in the army of PERSEVERANCE for a while, they live truthfully, they have a better sense of who they are, their strengths, weaknesses, and they operate from their core, their true self.
So the next time you hear the stigma about my soldiers, remember my voice, my soldiers are skilled, they possess skills that brings value to the workforce and could only be learned through this experience. They bring you real courage, drive, objectivity, determination, humor, and authenticity. And by the way, my army is made up of all types, most are the smartest and brightest in their field, so don’t get too cocky thinking you have job security, like my soldiers, you are not immune.