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Finding a job can be tough, and being unemployed can add an extra layer of difficulty due to existing hiring biases. Studies have shown that hiring managers often exhibit prejudice against unemployed candidates, leading to potential challenges for those seeking employment. However, being unemployed can also be a powerful motivator, pushing job seekers to put in more effort during their search. In this article, we’ll explore the hiring bias against the unemployed, share insights from research studies, and provide practical tips for job seekers on navigating the job market successfully.

Hiring Bias Against the Unemployed

  1. The 2011 UCLA Study: This study revealed that companies are less likely to hire unemployed candidates due to bias, regardless of the duration of their unemployment. Even stating that a candidate was laid off did not mitigate the bias.
  2. The 2021 Indeed Study: A more recent study by Indeed confirmed that the bias against unemployed job seekers persists. Both candidates and employers expressed beliefs that finding work is easier for those already employed, leading to perceptions of higher productivity for employed candidates.

Tips for Job Seekers Who Are Unemployed

  1. Focus Your Job Search: Instead of applying broadly, concentrate on positions that align with your qualifications and salary expectations. Utilize industry-specific job boards to target relevant openings.
  2. Network: Expand your professional network through platforms like LinkedIn and reach out to former colleagues who might know about relevant job opportunities.
  3. Make Use of Your Time: While unemployed, take personal development courses, volunteer, or take up temporary projects to enhance your skillset and showcase your dedication to professional growth.
  4. Polish Your Resume: Eliminate irrelevant work experiences, highlight recent jobs, and proofread your resume for inconsistencies or errors. Ensure your resume stands out with specific achievements and clear job dates.
  5. Maintain a Professional Social Media Presence: Potential employers may check your social media profiles. Ensure they present you in a professional and engaging manner.
  6. Improve Interviewing Skills: Prepare for interviews by practicing responses to common questions, seeking clarity, and being mindful of your body language and presence.

Duration of Unemployment

The time it takes to find a new job while unemployed varies for each individual. The average length of unemployment is around 22.3 weeks as of June 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Factors such as the job market and economy play a significant role in determining how quickly you secure a new position. Being flexible with job location and salary expectations can increase your chances of finding employment sooner.

Addressing Discrimination Against the Unemployed

Various attempts have been made to pass federal laws prohibiting unemployment discrimination. Several states, including New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., have implemented legislation to protect job candidates from being discriminated against based on their current employment status.


While hiring bias against the unemployed does exist, job seekers can overcome this obstacle with determination, strategic job searching, and polished application materials. Embrace the challenges of unemployment as an opportunity to grow and improve your chances of finding the right job. Remember that with the right approach and effort, you can secure a new position and move forward in your career.

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