The unemployment stigma is real. Hiring managers have been known to rate unemployed candidates as less confident and hirable than their employed counterparts, according to a 2011 study from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
The job market may be different now, but the stigma remains. A 2019 study shows that the social impact of unemployment affects people's health, self-image, and behavior. Addressing that stigma is key to restoring confidence.
According to researchers from the 2019 study, people who experience the social stigma of unemployment feel less healthy and rate their overall well-being lower. In time, the ongoing stigma reduces their expectations of finding work, trapping them in a vicious cycle.
However, there is some good news. The same researchers found that stigmatized job seekers tend to work harder at finding a new job. If you can capitalize on that motivation, you can help them turn things around.
You can't eliminate the social stigma of unemployment, but you can help your clients shift their mindset and self-image. When people see themselves as capable, they feel more confident, increasing their chances of getting a job.
Here's how to help your clients turn the corner.
The worst part of unemployment stigma is how easy it is to internalize. People get the message that unemployment makes them less valuable, and they start to believe it's true. The more they believe it, the harder it is for them to be confident enough to land a job.
Help them break the cycle by identifying what they bring to the job market. Every candidate has something that makes them a great catch for an employer.
Specificity is more convincing than generalities, so be as specific as possible. Don't just call someone a "hard worker." Calculate the number of hours they spent job searching last week. Have them tell you about a time a boss thanked them for putting in the extra effort.
Focusing on the future can be intimidating for a job candidate, especially one who feels unemployment stigma. Instead of fixating on a potential future job, point out the person's past triumphs and accomplishments.
List career successes and accomplishments outside of work. Include volunteer and school leadership positions. These will boost their confidence and give them talking points for future interviews.
Being out of work can be isolating and contributes to unemployment stigma. Reassure your clients they're not in this by themselves — you're there to offer guidance and moral support.
"Get a job" is big and overwhelming. Make it more approachable by sitting down with your client and identifying some small steps you can take together. Try brainstorming new career paths or researching training options. Earning a certification can be a quicker way to gain education, build a strong sense of accomplishment, and add an impressive skill to clients’ resumes.
MedCerts has a wide variety of healthcare and IT certification training programs, and your clients can use workforce grants to fund their education. A call to a Regional Workforce Manager or Admissions Advisor can go a long way toward helping your client feel hope again.
You know your clients are more than their unemployed status. Show them how training and certifications can help them land a rewarding career, and they'll be back on track faster than you can say "second interview."