I find it distressing that a law is in process to prevent companies from refusing to hire the unemployed. It’s not made it to the ranks, but the interest groups are taking up the torch. A society only requires laws when the people cannot govern themselves, and to require yet another law to keep prejudices from ruling business, is disgusting. The again so are the prejudices that create the need.
But the prejudice against the unemployed goes well beyond the current job market crisis. It has been ingrained within our cultural teaching to the degree that it can become an understood joke in a car commercial. “He’s a student-of life!” is more than just an insult towards an individual hasn’t settled, it’s cultural profiling.
If you are not single, or even have been married so long you forgot your own requirements, you likely know someone who is looking for a spouse. How do those conversations go? Usually there are some kind of physical attribute, which most will brush off as ideal, but insignificant over-all. What becomes crucial is, their “stability”. As an intelligent and un-biased individual, each of us like to think stability is more than just money, however, it is their job history that is the indicator we use to judge level of stability. If they have had several jobs over a short period of time, we wonder if that person is capable of commitment to anything.
We even consider the types of jobs they have. Is this person doing menial tasks, or are they in a white-collar career? I personally have a difficult time clearing my heart of evaluations based on the over-all usefulness of a job. I have very little respect for professional sports players actors and other artists who who are performing for money over art, however teachers, nurses, and pre-school workers are some of the most valuable people I care to know. Those are my personal prejudices, but you may have others. Rather we want them to or not, they affect our response to those individuals.
This happens in every aspect of life. We care within us specific ideas that include our biases and prejudices. To a great degree, these are rarely noticed, much less changeable. When you see them, however, you can make changes. It takes these changes with one individual making one decision at a time. You have done this before. You have known someone who has had a job change for whatever reasons, and your personal worth of the individual did not change because you know them and the situation. Those are the moments when it’s easy to change what might otherwise come natural.
The problem occurs when the other individual is a stranger. In being blind to the circumstances, and naturally un-trusting of other people’s perspectives, we create an inner dialog of explanation and evaluation, usually concluding with the other individual’s un-worthiness. This is a greatly troubled time. Most of us have significant issues of some kind, and that means so do the people we care about. I think it has become part of human self-preservation to mentally eliminate new individuals who may constitute a future problem, rather we realize that is what we are doing or not: Life is difficult enough, you don’t need more problems, and hanging out with someone who doesn’t have a job, is going to be a problem at some point. If you are looking for a partner, you will want someone you can lean on, not someone who seems like they are going to lean on you exclusively.
I am also learning that unemployment perceptions can be an issue when the person leaves their job the “wrong” way. Even with a stranger, we have much more tolerance for individuals who were asked to leave through no fault of their own, than we do for the friend or family member who leaves of their own accord. The “right” way to leave one job is only after you have lined up another. Finances being crucial to maintaining a way of life, so is having a job. Sometimes the extenuating circumstances may make a difference in the prejudice of others, but not always, and not when trying to find a new job.
I understand why companies don’t want to hire the unemployed. I have been in corporate management, as well as owning my own business. When I looked at an application, if someone had not been working, I was inclined to believe they did not have the kind of ethics required to work for me. I think this is probably one of the more “normal” responses I have had. The difference comes when, instead of throwing the apparently unacceptable onto a pile, I brought them in. Again, there is a great difference between 10 interviews and 200. Eliminating individuals based on current employment status is a way to narrow the search, but it is not efficient.
Although it may be more difficult to do so when representing a corporation, people should be evaluated on an individual level. I think everyone would like to think they do this, but they will also make excuses when confronted with evidence of over-generalizing. The thoughtful amongst us may deny it in the moment, but when pointed out to us, we re-evaluate ourselves, and move forward with an effort to do better. You who are like this, probably require nothing more than a headline to be more aware. Others do not see the message for the words. They have cloudy minds focused on the task at hand, and require something more for awareness. These are the ones I take in hand and say “Look!” These are not bad people, they just do not see clearly.
It does not matter if you are among the thoughtful or the overly-focused. What matters is how you respond. As a society, when each one of use choose toward compassion and individuality, we change our culture. When you speak to someone about the kind of partner they are looking for, and you remind them to look beyond their job, you are working toward that state of universal balance we like to call “peace”, by encouraging priorities beyond the financial. When you hear about a friend who is trying to hire the “right person for the job” and you remind them that it’s been a difficult economy and many good workers have been out of work, you are encouraging more stability within our current society.
We do not have to be the individual directly impacted by unemployment or the job market at all. We still affect the economy by our interactions and expectations of one another. Unemployment is about more than just money. If we all work together, our culture can be about more than just money as well.