Criminally Overlooked in the Job Market?

Thursday, December 6, 2012
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Given the recovering but still-sluggish job market, it's fair to say the average recruiter is poring through his or her share of resumes from unemployed job seekers at the moment.

So, is it also fair to say that recruiters may be viewing candidates' employment gaps a bit differently these days, taking extenuating circumstances into consideration? Not necessarily, according to recent research.

In fact, one study suggests that employed job candidates with criminal records are faring better in the job market than those who are out of work. The anonymous survey of 1,500 staffing recruiters, corporate recruiters and hiring managers found 45 percent of respondents think it would be easier to find a job for a currently employed candidate with a criminal record than one who has been out of work for two years.

In the survey, conducted by Boston-based Bullhorn Inc., recruiters were asked to rate which of those two groups would be more difficult to put in a job, on a scale of one to five. The aforementioned 45 percent said placing someone who had been out of work for two years would rank as a five, while only 31 percent said the same about applicants with a non-felony criminal record. In addition, 36 percent of the recruiters polled noted that candidates become "difficult" to place when they've been unemployed between six months and one year.

It's worth noting that respondents made a connection between the duration of job candidates' unemployment and their attractiveness to recruiters, says Kim Lamoreux, senior director of research practices and principal analyst for talent acquisition with Oakland, Calif.-based Bersin & Associates.

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"Two years is a long time [to be unemployed], even in today's market," she says. "Recruiters may feel bad for a candidate in that situation. But, putting those feelings aside, there are concerns about development of new skills and familiarity with changing technology in that time, for example. Now, there's a learning curve when and if these people join the organization."

By and large, employers aren't necessarily biased against unemployed job seekers, but the current job market does allow HR professionals to be a bit choosier in identifying candidates, says Fran Luisi, a principal at Rumson, N.J.-based retained-search firm Charleston Partners.

"It's a healthy marketplace, but a very selective marketplace," says Luisi.


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