Show Me the Money: Long-Term Unemployed May Be Holding Out for Pay
by Traci K. and BrightMove Recruiting Software
The current economic situation has made screening resumes more difficult for recruiters. Today, a large employment gap is commonplace and the percentage of applicants that are currently unemployed is significantly higher than just a few years ago. The first inclination may be to write off applicants whose last full-time employment was a year ago or more. However, dig a little deeper into why they have remained unemployed all this time and the answer may surprise you.
According to a survey conducted by Personified, a division of Careerbuilder, “17 percent of unemployed workers have received at least one job offer since they have become unemployed. Of these workers, 92 percent rejected the offer. Fifty-four percent reported the pay was more than 25 percent below the salary they earned in their most recent position.”
The number one reason cited by those that turned down job offers was pay. People simply aren’t willing to accept a position to work 40 hours a week for less money than they would make staying home drawing unemployment. It doesn’t make sense to them.
To give an idea of the recent economic employment situation, the Department of Labor’s current JOLTS Report shows 3.2 million job openings as of the last business day of August, and the DOL reports an unwavering 9.6 percent unemployment rate at the same time, with 14.8 million unemployed.
You can be positive that the majority of those 14.8 million workers are ready to once again be gainfully employed, knowing that a steady income is available to them, however, at what cost should this be to their career? Opinions on this matter differ widely. The Huffington Post quoted Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul on his message for long-term unemployed Americans: “Accept a wage that’s less than [you] had at [your] previous job” and “get back to work.”
Paul “made his position on the matter clear in an interview with talk radio host Sue Wylie on WVLK-AM:”
As bad as it sounds, ultimately we do have to sometimes accept a wage that’s less than we had at our previous job in order to get back to work and allow the economy to get started again,” Paul explained. “Nobody likes that, but it may be one of the tough love things that has to happen.
The fact of the matter is that in most cases, an unemployed person is not required to accept a job offer that pays less than their most recent position. And it may not be that wise for them to do so. If they find themselves laid off again in the future, their unemployment benefits will probably not be as much as they currently are. The Wisdom Journal weighs the pros and cons after a reader posted a question as to whether or not her husband should accept a lesser paying job:
Pros of taking a lower paying position
He will be putting food on the table.
Sure he isn’t bringing in the larger paycheck you’re accustomed to, but he will be bringing in something.
Work is its own reward.
Just being busy will probably give a large boost to his self esteem and sense of self-worth.
He will be doing something he loves.
I’ve written about discovering your passion before and it sounds like your husband knows his calling could be teaching kids about math.
He can make his own mark.
With so much experience, your husband will be able to make a significant mark on the community and on the kids in his classroom. That has to be satisfying and he could be a hero to kids struggling with math.
He may make contact with someone who can help him further his career.
Just getting out into the workforce could put your husband in contact with people who may be able to help him further his career, whether in aerospace engineering or in teaching.
Cons of taking a lower paying position
There are some negatives to applying for or accepting a lower paying position.
He could set himself back professionally.
Many employers look for a pattern of career progression and taking a lower paying position (which assumedly has less prestige), could signal to future employers that his career has already peaked.
What excites him now might bore him day-to-day.
Many people would love to do their hobbies for a living, but once you turn a hobby into a job, it’s just another job. Your husband may find that teaching kids occasionally is fun while doing it day-in-and-day-out is maddening.
He will probably report to a bureaucrat.
You may know the principal socially, but that’s a far cry from reporting to him daily. Schools have rules and not all of them make sense to you and me. His boss will have to juggle regulations, budgets, and a mind-numbing amount of directives from bureaucrats that have never taught a single kid.
He may be more qualified than his new peers.
Sure there are probably some teachers at the school who have decades of experience, but with your husband’s experience and credentials, he may be a threat to some of his new coworkers.
Being overqualified may make him restless.
I’ve found that once someone crosses the six figure income threshold, they tend to gravitate back to it when an opportunity presents itself. Since he was making a large income as an engineer, taking such a drastic step backwards may be too difficult to overcome psychologically.
Whether or not to accept a lower salary will obviously be the decision of the applicant, however, before dismissing a resume of someone unemployed, check into the reasons behind the employment gap and pay attention to a candidate’s most recent salary. If you aren’t able to offer somewhere in the ballpark of what an applicant was making, you are probably wasting your time with an interview.