The Bagg Group says ‘comeback effect’ should lay to rest bias against unemployed candidates


With 40 + years in the business of placing top talent with the best companies in the GTA, all of us at The Bagg Group know that in life, stuff happens.   Businesses close, departments merge, the needs of companies change and even the best employees, with stellar track records, can find themselves out of work. 

It can happen to anyone.  And in a slow-growth economy, we all know of admirable people, with much to offer, who are looking for work. 

But despite this fact, a University of California study has found that in the US, hiring managers are prejudiced against job applicants who aren’t holding a current position.

In one experiment, human resource specialists appraised resumes that, unbeknownst to them, were made up.  The resumes that belonged to recently unemployed candidates received lower scores for competence and hireability than virtually the same resumes of people said to be still employed.

“We were surprised to find that, all things being equal, unemployed applicants were viewed as less competent, warm and hireable than employed individuals,” said lead researcher Geoffrey Ho.

In another experiment HR specialists were told the reasons for a candidate’s job loss, but this didn’t seem to have an effect on their scoring. “Job candidates who said they voluntarily left a position faced the same stigma as job candidates who said they had been laid off or terminated.”

The study found that only when the job loss was known to be in no way attributable to the individual — such as bankruptcy on the part of the employer — did the disadvantage of being unemployed disappear.

Over the course of the history of The Bagg Group, staffing experts have placed almost 60,000 candidates successfully in full-time positions, contract work and temporary placements.   Our screening process is extremely rigorous, but if we had ever let bias influence us, we would have lost out on thousands of fantastic candidates who have gone on to be tremendous assets to their employers.

The bottom line:  What matters is proven, up-to-date relevant skills, appropriate experience, and an attitude and vision that dovetails with the company’s needs and objectives.   

High-achievers with talent to spare don’t want to be unemployed. But if life throws them a curve ball, they typically come back to the workplace more enthusiastic, committed and determined than ever. 

Hopefully, one day, there’ll be a study that confirms the powerful effect of the comeback.

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