Evaluating Long-Term Unemployment
In an ideal world, talented IT professionals would move seamlessly from one position to another without gaps in employment. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world and gaps in employment can happen. You’ll likely give no additional thought to a candidate with a month-long gap in employment, but what about someone who’s been out of the workforce for a year? Or five years? How do you successfully evaluate their skills? How do you find out if they’ve stayed current with the industry despite being unemployed?
Unemployed Can Simply Mean Under-Accessed
There is a generally held belief that candidates who have been unemployed for a longer timeframe are less qualified than their employed counterparts. The reality is that those experiencing long-term unemployment are not necessarily unqualified. They are, however, under accessed (limited access to and by recruitment professionals). A recent study of nearly 20,000 workers found that there was “virtually no difference” in workforce performance between long-term unemployed candidates and those who had no employment gaps. The same study also found that many of those long-term unemployed maintained or surpassed industry standard skill levels.
But without a current or recent employer how do you evaluate skills?
Perform a Tech Assessment
Assessing technical skills is the key to determining whether a long-term unemployed candidate is right for the job. Taking the time to evaluate networking, programming, change/service management and business analysis capabilities before a face-to-face meeting can save time. It can also help you avoid costly hiring mistakes.
Just because someone is unemployed, doesn’t mean they stay home all day playing games or watching shows. Look at their resume for insight as to how they are keeping their skills up, especially any volunteer activities listed. Teaching keeps you on your toes! And many IT professionals look to share their knowledge and passion with those less knowledgeable. Look for instances of tutoring university students or mentoring advanced courses.
Classes and Development
Unemployment can mean an opportunity for candidates to not only brush up on existing skills, but learn new ones. Inquiring about current classes or certifications they may be pursuing will give you a solid understanding of their knowledge and relevancy.
During the interview, be sure to ask these three questions to get a clear picture of your candidate’s skill level.
#1: Describe Two Major Trends In The Industry, And How They Relate To Your Ideal Job.
This question lets you know your candidate is staying up to date on happenings within the industry. It also gives you an idea of how they see themselves within it!
#2: Describe What You Think This Position Will Be Like.
By asking the candidate to give you their understanding of the role and its requirements, you’ll see whether or not their knowledge is up to date. How someone views their job in relation to the bigger organizational picture will also help you assess their understanding of the current state of the industry and its requirements.
#3: What Blogs Or Magazines Do You Read Regularly?
Tech is always changing. Find out how your candidate gets their news and who they consider a go-to source.
There’s a bonus to hiring someone who’s been experiencing long-term unemployment: higher retention. Candidates who have been unemployed for longer than six months tend to stay at their new place of employment for a longer duration and possess greater workforce loyalty.
Looking for Top Tech Talent?
If you’re in the process of bringing in new staff or are interested in hiring a candidate who is experiencing long-term unemployment, let INSPYR Solutions make sure you’re getting the right person for the job!