When looking for a job, we all know that we can thank the Civil Rights Act for illegalizing discrimination based on religion, sex, race or nationality.
However, the recession has highlighted another form of discrimination that we must now combat, one that seems ironically backward and damaging for the betterment of the U.S. financial crisis.
As students, we should be aware that uttering the word “unemployed” is like waving a white flag in the work force.
A breakthrough study conducted by UCLA and State University of New York”“Stony Brook researchers found that the unemployed face preconceived, unwarranted judgments. They are consistently viewed as less competent and less qualified regardless of actual skills or the reasons why they are no longer employed, said lead researcher Geoffrey Ho, a doctoral student in human resources and organizational behavior at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
But this doesn’t have to give us a bleak outlook on the future. Ho did say that students wouldn’t necessarily face that judgment straight out of college.
It is logical, however, that we would eventually meet that discrimination if we are unable to find jobs right away.
So, in such an economic downturn, it’s sadly but surely important we take what we can get.
Employers around the country are even going as far as blatantly advising on job listings that the unemployed need not apply.
As if unemployment isn’t scary enough, this knowledge should inform us of how imperative it is to stay active and productive after graduation, especially considering how pervasive long-term unemployment has become.
Six million Americans are still facing unemployment for more than six months, and the number of unemployed college graduates is the highest it has been in more than a decade.
Weeding out the applicant pool with disregard for those who are undeservedly in this category is in no way assisting our economy, and yet it is a commonly observed phenomenon, one that is exacerbating the psychological and economic consequences of unemployment.
These consequences, along with the findings of this study, were discussed during a conference hosted by UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. As we all gradually move toward the barren terrain of the job market, this data should be grounding.
Many of us shy away from immediately working after college, whether that’s because we want to weigh our choices, travel or make sure the path chosen will aid developing a career. Other times, students are simply worn out and need a break.
But because being out of work is so obviously detrimental to our resumes, we should jump into working, whether that’s with volunteering, interning or even taking a part-time job.
“Fill that gap on the resume … so that employers don’t see that you’ve been on the market for a while and other employers have already passed up on you,” advised Ho.
There are efforts to alleviate the injustices of being stigmatized before you even set foot into an interview, but whether they will be effective is unclear.
Government hearings were recently held to consider amending Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The Fair Employment Act, or HR 1113, would make it illegal for employers to refuse to hire or to lower compensation for a person because of employment status.
But while this legislation would be a great governmental move, claimants in civil rights cases are infrequently successful, because violations are so often a subtle and internal process.
Discrimination can be outlawed, but in practice its detection is not always easy ““ for this issue, an external solution seems less reliable than simply taking it upon ourselves.
Students should do themselves a huge favor and begin to hunt for work, even while still in school. An impeccable GPA, an arduous list of activities or a degree from the almighty UCLA is not enough for security post-graduation.
Obviously, a plan germane to our life goals would be ideal, but why not stay employed while figuring one out?
UCLA offers so many resources on career planning, volunteer work and internships ““ take advantage, and don’t sit in indecision.
Because while we can hope there will be government assistance on this issue, the best route we can take for now is to make sure we do what is so difficult ““ be quick while being wise, and stay busy while business is low.