Long-Term Unemployed Face Hiring Bias

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Nearly four years after the Great Recession was declared over, high unemployment persists. Now many of those out-of-work Americans say they face hiring discrimination from unsympathetic employers.

"What they don't consider is that these are not normal times," Michelle Chesney-Offutt, who was unemployed for nearly three years before landing a job, said.

But some personnel managers say a host of factors are at play when considering an applicant.

"There's much more subliminal discrimination against the unemployed that's hard to document," said Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University's College of Business Administration.

"Hiring is an art, not a science. You rely on a gut reaction," she said.

For instance, some hiring managers believe that applicants will take any job and then move along once they get a better offer.

Nevertheless, several states may soon take action to end discrimination against the unemployed.

They're considering passing laws that forbid employers to reject job applicants who aren't currently working.

New Jersey Assemblywoman Celeste M. Riley said it's important that job seekers demonstrate they're active in their communities and don't just "sit at home."

Still, she's co-sponsored the nation's only law prohibiting ads restricting job applicants to those who are employed.

"When you apply for a job, you should be viewed based on your skill level, not whether you have a job or not," Riley said.

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