Redundant workers have a six-month shelf-life

Jun 17 2009 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Everyone accepts that people are being made redundant right now through no fault of their own. But while a short gap on the CV or resume is unlikely to cause huge problems later on, it seems that there is generally only have a six month window in which to get back to work before the stigma of being "long-term unemployed" starts to kick in.

A poll of more than 1,000 managers by the UK-based Institute of Leadership & Management has revealed that unemployment doesn't initially carry the stigma that many of those losing their jobs often fear.

In fact, more than eight out of 10 managers said the employment status of applicants was irrelevant, as they did not consider it an indicator of ability or performance in the current climate of redundancies.

But after six months this relatively benign picture changes. At that point more than a quarter of the employers polled said they would have become less likely to hire someone they ny then considered to be long-term unemployed.

Possible exceptions to this would be if you could prove that in that time you had been studying for a relevant vocational or academic qualification or undertaking voluntary work.

Being able to show you were keeping up to date with industry developments, even if you haven't actually been working, could also help as it showed you had not lost your drive or motivation.

And those considering blowing some of their redundancy cash by jetting off to escape the doom and gloom should also think twice, the ILM argued.

Whether because hiring managers would simply be jealous or because it was seen as a retrograde step and smacking of a lack of ambition, taking a gap year to go travelling or volunteering overseas were rated as unattractive to potential employers in the research.

Penny de Valk, chief executive of ILM, said: "Unemployment isn't necessarily an indicator of ability, especially in the current climate when hundreds of talented individuals are being made redundant through no fault of their own. The good news is that most employers will treat unemployed applicants exactly the same as other candidates.

"The research shows that it is important for job seekers to try and get back to work as quickly as possible. They should use their time not only job hunting but finding ways to put themselves in front of the competition.

"The most effective way for job seekers to boost their future employment prospects is to play to their strengths, freshen up their knowledge and skills and keep up to date with developments in their sector," she added.

Of course, in one of the toughest jobs' markets for years Ė with most forecasters not predicting even a weak pick-up in the global economy until next year Ė even six months can be a challenge, meaning job hunting is likely to become a full-time job in itself.

Another difficulty is the fact that picking yourself up and getting back into a positive frame of mind after the shock of being made redundant can in itself take some considerable time Ė but all the time that six-month clock will be ticking.

In March, research by the consultancy Development Dimensions International found that at least 10 people were now scrabbling for every vacancy, with hiring managers complaining of being flooded by desperate applicants.

And in the same month, U.S research by The Korn/Ferry Institute, part of recruitment firm Korn/Ferry International, estimated it was now taking at least four months for executives who had been made redundant to land a new job, a figure perilously close to the ILM's six month margin by which unemployment stigma starts to become a factor.