A new survey has found that hiring managers and recruiters believe it is easier to place a candidate who has a job -- but who also has a criminal record -- than a person who has been unemployed for more than two years.
Bullhorn, the recruiting software company, conducted an anonymous survey of 1,500 recruiting and hiring managers last month and asked them to rate the difficulty of placing certain candidates on a scale from 1 to 5. The company found that 44 percent of respondents rated candidates who had been unemployed for two years or more as a five: meaning "very difficult" to place. Forty-three percent rated those candidates a four, which indicated "difficult" to place.
But when it came to people with non-felony criminal records, just 31 percent of hiring managers rated them as a five, and 32 percent rated them as a four.
"As you try hard to claw your way out of unemployment and you don’t succeed, you become less employable," Vinda Rao, a marketing manager with Bullhorn, told The Huffington Post. "It's completely antithetical to how we'd want it to be."
Rao said that while the criminal record versus long-term unemployment paradox was a surprising and unfortunate finding, it highlights the fact that job-seekers should seek out any strategies they can to combat the negative stereotypes that come with being out of work.
"Take on part-time jobs if you can't get a full-time job. Do volunteer work. Just do something that seems like you’ve been learning new skills and doing something with your time," Rao said. "Anything you can do as an unemployed person to calm that stereotype is in your best interest."
The results of the new survey seem, in part, to back up other findings on the stigma of unemployment.
Last month, HuffPost's Arthur Delaney wrote about research out of ULCA that showed companies think less of those who are unemployed, regardless of how briefly they've been out of work.
In one study the researchers conducted, 47 human resources professionals looked at identical resumes with only one distinguishing characteristic: the employment status of the job seeker. The "currently employed" candidate was considered more competent and more hirable than the person who had been out of a job for just a month.
Indeed, the Bullhorn survey also showed that it doesn't take long for a person to be unemployed before recruiters to consider them a challenge to place: 36 percent of respondents said that a candidate could only be out of work for six months to a year before finding them a job would become difficult.
An estimated 1.8 million people have been out of a job for more than 99 weeks, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but as Forbes points out, those numbers only include people who reported looking for work in the last four weeks, so the actual numbers could be much higher.
Still, one aspect of heartening news came out of Bullhorn's survey: According to Rao, a majority of the survey respondents -- 62 percent -- said that they'd have an easier time placing a 55-year-old with a steady job history than someone aged 30 who had bounced around a lot. Thirty-nine percent of hiring managers said the factor most negatively affecting those looking for work is a history of job-hopping, or leaving a company before a year.
"Everybody can get away with that once because we all find ourselves in the wrong fit," Rao said. "But if you do it over and over again, it says you're either not committed to staying somewhere long term, or you're in it for a promotion or higher pay grade and using it as a ladder. No one wants to extend the resources to train you if they can't count on your being a dedicated employee."