Don't Overlook Available Candidates - Unemployed Doesn't Mean Unqualified

Jun 5, 2020

“If the candidate is unemployed, they must not be any good.” This mindset is unfortunately common among hiring authorities throughout the construction industry. Many managers believe that candidates who were released from their previous employers must be underperformers, or else their employers never would have let them go. But the truth is that there are many reasons for an employee to leave a company, and most of them have nothing to do with performance issues. Here’s a look at some of the reasons a high performer might end up on the market, and how companies can evaluate whether an unemployed candidate might be the A-player they’ve been looking for.

Why Would Great Candidates Be on the Market?

Whether a candidate was let go or left an employer on their own, there is no guarantee that poor performance was a factor in their departure. Struggling companies might lay off entire divisions to cut overhead, or in response to dwindling backlog. In other cases, the “last one in” might get released - even if those employees are excellent performers. Even if a company has plenty of work, they might release a highly skilled candidate who is not a great cultural fit for their organization - but might be a better fit for a different company. Candidates who leave on their own should also not be dismissed as disloyal or flighty - one might have to relocate to be closer to family, while another might be seeking growth opportunities that weren’t available with their previous employer. These are just a few of the reasons that a highly skilled, loyal, and passionate candidate might be unemployed when their resume crosses a hiring authority’s desk - and none of them would prevent those employees from making money, saving money, and solving problems for a new employer.

How Can Construction Companies Tell if an Unemployed Candidate is a Perfect Fit?

Sometimes, of course, performance does factor into a candidate being let go or leaving a company. The good news is, hiring managers don’t have to guess about whether a candidate is a strong performer or whether they would improve the manager’s team. Thoroughly evaluating a candidate means putting aside preconceived notions about why someone is unemployed and tapping into the resources at a manager’s disposal. That includes calling unsolicited industry references, looking over project lists, and (most importantly) having detailed conversations with the candidate about their experience. Hiring managers should be direct and ask about anything that strikes them as a red flag, and candidates should be prepared to discuss why they left their most recent employer. But unemployment should not be a deterrent to meeting with a candidate.

Dismissing a candidate out of hand simply because they are unemployed is an easy way for construction companies to lose out on top talent. Rather than eliminating a promising candidate based solely on their current employment status, hiring managers should meet with the candidate, discuss the candidate’s status and motivations, and then trust their own experience and intuition to determine if that person is the right fit.

About the Author

Guy Ross

Guy began his career at Kimmel & Associates in 1998, after working in the EAP (Employee Assistance Program) profession for nine years. There, he worked with company leaders to enhance and resolve job performance issues of underperforming employees.

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