The Loop

The Resilient and the Restless

Filed under: Attraction & Retention

A recently published Workforce Report found that within the hourly workforce, prior history of unemployment or holding multiple jobs for less than six months has no bearing on job performance or attrition. On the contrary, these two facets of the workforce population may possess some pretty impressive skills and personal characteristics.

For an in depth analysis, let's first take a look at folks who have involuntarily been out of the workforce for an extended period of time.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added 162,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 7.4% in July. Furthermore, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) has declined by 921,000 over the past year. Certainly this is good news for those people able to get their financial lives back on track with working income, but perhaps equally good news for their employers as well.

Consider that a person who's been out of work for a considerable amount of time has likely become proficient in several capacities, namely cutting back on expenses and becoming resourceful at procuring life's necessities for lower prices. These are qualities from which many companies would benefit. After all, wouldn't you rather employ thrifty workers than spendthrifts?

Other key traits likely held by this demographic are patience and tenacity. They've had to apply for jobs, sit through interviews, and endure disappointment time and time again. And yet, once employed, they can truly understand the value of these traits, and may well make good managers, influencers, and purveyors of patience and tenacity.

Perhaps more importantly, someone who is hired after a prolonged hiatus is likely to appreciate and work hard to keep the job it took so long to acquire. They may be more willing to adapt to different variables, be patient with difficult people and circumstances, and overall experience lower employee turnover. In short, hire someone who's been out of work for awhile, and you may well save in future recruitment expenses for that position.

Then there are the "job hoppers" – people with a track record of leaving employers after only a short stint. This may be due to several reasons. For example, during these recent years that we've experienced an employer's market, it's become common practice to churn new recruits during the onboarding phase if they are not perceived as a "good fit" of skill set and/or company culture, knowing that there are plenty of other qualified candidates available from which to choose. So on one hand, a job hopper may be tired of getting routed from one company to another and very anxious to settle in and become proficient at one job.

On the other hand, the job hopper may be an overachiever who learns quickly and then gets bored with his responsibilities, continually seeking new challenges. It's good to understand the circumstances and motivations behind changing jobs – not to disqualify a candidate, but rather to learn how to best place and manage him. Someone tired of switching jobs may welcome mundane responsibilities and the opportunity to master them over time. An easily bored job hopper may be better suited for a fast-paced environment where the job requirements change often – requiring them to think on their feet and assimilate quickly within the corporate culture.

As you can imagine, any or all of these qualities and job skills may be very desirable, depending on the type of role you're trying to fill. Discovering employee motivation is one of the keys to matching a good job candidate to a specific role. You in fact may want to design a recruitment strategy specifically targeting the "resilient" or the "restless" when seeking these specific traits. Because according to the recent study by Evolv ... job hoppers and the unemployed actually make great workers.

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