So, what do you think looks worse on a resume, a
criminal record or two years of unemployment?

You can totally see where I’m going with this,
right? Obviously, you’re supposed to answer “a criminal record,” then
be shocked and amazed when I tell you that it is indeed the two-year
unemployment gap that will have the worse effect on your job prospects. Though
maybe it’s not that surprising. We’ve been going on about the unemployment
stigma for ages.

A new survey, conducted by online recruiting
software company Bullhorn, looked at
what’s holding candidates back from landing a job. They interviewed 1,500
recruiting and hiring managers and found that, for an unemployed candidate
looking to regain employment, the recruiters said it’s easier for them to place
someone with a criminal record (OK, non-felony, but still) in a new job than it
is to place someone who has been unemployed for two years.

Bullhorn’s marketing manager Vinda Rao tells me
on the phone, “A job in hand is worth pretty much everything. It means
you’re in demand. It’s not entirely surprising. What it is – is extremely
disheartening, because to be unemployed for the long term is not something that
is a character fault. It’s a matter of circumstance.”

Long term unemployment wasn’t the biggest
obstacle. It was actually second to job hopping. Also a little surprising,
since the new career model among young people is apparently to move from job to
job. Bullhorn defined job hopping as leaving positions after less than a year.

Rao said, “From a recruiter or hiring
manager’s perspective, it makes sense that this would be frowned upon. It means
you voluntarily left jobs, and I think everybody can get away with that once or
twice but if it’s systematic and behaviour, it’s not a stretch to assume you
have commitment issues or that you’re in it for something else, like career
climbing, that you don’t really care about the company and are just concerned
about achieving your own external goals.” Simply put, “it makes you a
bad investment.”

Third on the list of obstacles to regaining
employment is having gaps in your employment history.

A few
other key findings:
While 70% of respondents say
candidates in their 30s are the easiest age group for recruiters to place,
respondents also said there’s greater demand for candidates in their 40s than
for candidates in their 20s.  Also, not
surprisingly, 78% of recruiters ranked getting fired as the most damaging to
one’s future career prospects.

So, how can one avoid the unemployment stigma if
one finds oneself out of work for an extended period? Rao says, “Keep
taking part time jobs, keep busy, take classes, do whatever you can to at least
appear as though you’re doing something constructive with your time.” Ah,
yes! The old “look busy.” Makes sense.

Other ideas (I got the basic ideas here, if not
the exact suggestions, from Hal Gieseking and Paul Plawin’s book “30 Days
to a Good Job,” a very valuable, if slightly outdated, resource): turn
what you’ve been doing with your time into “jobs” or “projects”
you’ve been working on. Instead of presenting it like “I can’t find a
job,” try “I took a year off to work on my
novel/screenplay/meditation.” Don’t lie, but unless you’ve been lying on
the couch eating chicken wings off your belly, there’s a good chance you’ve
been doing something. Did you go to
Europe and read some non-fiction books? “I took some time off to travel
and study.” Have you helped anyone, friends or family, with things in your
area of expertise? “I’ve been working as a consultant.” Pro bono work
is still work.

Think about it.

Or you could just get arrested for a misdemeanor
and spend some time in jail. Then you’ll have an excuse. Ha. I kid!


Source: Bullhorn infographic Job Hopping damages Job Prospects