In the Nation's Interest

Considered Hiring the Long-Term Unemployed?

Over 200 companies have accepted the President’s challenge to address long-term unemployment by committing to a set of best practices focused around hiring and recruiting.

Over the course of this year, these companies have made progress in helping the long-term unemployed get back to work.  Although the rate has been reduced from 2.5 percent to 1.9 percent since the end of last year, long-term unemployment is still at nearly twice its pre-crisis levels.

Below are the best practices used by companies to develop more inclusive recruiting and hiring.

  • Changing Practices to Remove Barriers:

A number of companies have worked to remove artificial barriers that cause rejection of the long-term unemployed before they are provided a fair chance. Frontier Communications engaged in a trial experiment where they stopped checking credit histories as part of their hiring process – recognizing that the checks were not relevant to the positions they were looking to fill. At the end of the trial, Frontier found that many of the long-term unemployed who would have been screened out by a credit check had been hired and were performing just as well as other hires. Frontier has also started conducting video interviews as a first screen rather than only looking at resumes to eliminate biases against the unemployed.

Comcast likewise moved to hiring for customer-facing roles based on competencies rather than a resume or recent work experience. Along those same lines, several companies, including CVS and Boeing, are retraining their recruiters and hiring managers to eliminate the stigma associated with gaps on resumes and other barriers to giving the long-term unemployed a fair shot.

  • Creating Partnerships:

KPMG and Wells Fargo highlighted the value of local partnerships, including with American Job Centers, workforce boards, veterans groups, and other non-profits. For example, several organizations including TrueBlue, CVS, and the University of Chicago system, have committed to hiring workers through a partnership with the non-profit Skills for Chicagoland’s Future. All of the hires through this program are previously unemployed, and, to date, 70 percent were long-term unemployed. One company said they had been able to validate that attrition was lower for candidates hired through these programs than for regular candidates. Two manufacturing companies, E.J. Ajax and Sons and Optimax Systems, reported that they have each cooperated with competitors to set up joint training programs, which have been useful for hiring the long-term unemployed, returning veterans, and youth offenders.

A San Francisco-based data analytics company, Evolv, shared their research which shows that those individuals who had been out of work for four years performed similarly to others hired in front-line roles when compared by metrics such as schedule adherence, average time to complete a transaction, customer satisfaction, and performance evaluations.

  • Sharing Best Practices:

Deloitte, with input from many companies, has developed a handbook entitled “Guide to Recruiting and Hiring the Long-Term Unemployed.” This handbook provides a structured guide for companies to self-assess their current practices and practical tools to help employers at every level – from CEOs and chief human resource officers to recruiters and hiring managers – and to tap into the full potential of job seekers who have been unemployed for six months or more.

Employers can also help the long-term unemployed with their job search even if they don’t have jobs to offer them within their own companies. Bank of America, which hires tens of thousands of new workers per year, receives almost 2 million online applications to join the company. The company has created an online portal to provide job-search assistance for applicants it is unable to hire. Bank of America, Sodexo, and other companies are working to promote a job-seeker handbook that Deloitte and Rockefeller created – “New Guide, New Destinations” – through their own automatic response emails to unsuccessful applicants and their web pages.

If you are interested in learning more, the National Economic Council is hosting a webinar on Thursday, December 11th from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm EST. The webinar is intended for executives leading long-term unemployment initiatives within their company. Please send an email to nec_econ@who.eop.gov and pshevlin@who.eop.gov if you are able to participate, and provide the name and contact information for the participant(s). An RSVP is requested as soon as possible.

Cindy Cisneros serves as Director of Education Programs for the Committee for Economic Development. This blog has been reposted from The Conference Board.

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