My 2011 Wish: Why Not Take a Little Closer Look at the Unemployed?

HR should not ignore or avoid hiring the unemployed.

I met a couple of HR friends of mine the other night for happy hour and talked with them about something that was on my mind.

I mentioned that there has been quite a bit of talk around companies not hiring candidates who are unemployed. I asked them how they felt about that. You see, all three of us have been “in transition” at one time or another during the past year, and each of us has a totally different story to tell.

Resumes don’t tell the whole story

Fortunately we’ve all landed on our feet, but what if we hadn’t? How would we be able to overcome that stigma in the hiring manager’s mind that we were somehow flawed or that we just weren’t up to par?

You can’t explain in a cover letter that a new VP came on board and wanted to bring in his or her former colleagues. You can’t explain that there was a mandatory 10 percent cut in consultants and you were truly “just a number,” and you can’t explain that you were laid off because the person who was the backbone of the office, fought a long and hard battle with cancer (and lost), which greatly changed the dynamic – eventually sending it into a nose dive.

Throughout my career, I’ve hired several people. Not once did I ever worry about whether my potential new hire was already employed. I’ve been blessed to work for companies that cared more about skills, enthusiasm, and what the person could “bring to the table.”

I am not suggesting that we only hire unemployed candidates (that would be idiotic and WAY too optimistic – even for me). I’m just asking that we take the “must already be employed” mandate off the table. Instead of looking for what is wrong with the candidate, let’s take a minute to dig a little deeper and find what’s right. There are some great people out there ready to give their all.

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My personal thanks

I’d like to thank all of the people who took the time to comment on my blog and follow me on Twitter after my first post on HROptimist. I was energized by your kudos and kind words. Some of you I have been following for quite some time now, so I appreciate your support.

I wish you all a very healthy and happy 2011 – it’s going to be a great year, I can feel it!

This was originally published on Deborah Herman’s HR Optimist blog.

Deborah Herman is "Your Recruitment Business Partner" at DH Talent Strategies, LLC in Pompano Beach, FL. She's also a blogger at, and a HR professional with 20 plus plus years of director-level experience in staffing, marketing and employment communications. Deborah also serves as a District Director for HR Florida State Council. Contact her at