Can Networking Prevent Discrimination Against the Long-Term Unemployed?

Jan 22, 2014

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The graph, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey, highlights the sharp increase in long-term unemployment (defined as unemployed for more than 27 weeks) among the total population of those unemployed and in the labor force.

As the media turns its attention to reports of a strengthening job market, some fear unchanging conditions in long-term unemployment are being overlooked.

Speaking on WNPR's Where We Live, Ofer Sharone of the MIT Sloan School of Management said long-term unemployment is not decreasing at the same rate as overall unemployment -- something he insisted is largely due to discrimination during the hiring process.

“The idea is that someone that is six months unemployed or longer will be discriminated against simply because of the fact that they have been unemployed,” he said. “We see that people with no relevant prior experience are much more likely to get a callback, who have short-term unemployment, than people who have relevant experience but are long-term unemployed.”

Sharone is currently researching ways to improve the rate at which the long-term unemployed find jobs. In the meantime, he said there is a way for job hunters to avoid potential discrimination: networking.

“We know that networking for people that are long-term unemployed is more difficult than for people that are working, or recently laid off,” he said. “So, we have to look more closely about what forms of networking, networking with who and how.”

Sharone offered social networking as the best way to avoid employer bias until this type of discrimination is eliminated.