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Are unemployed job applicants unemployable?

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There are advantages to hiring unemployed people, for both the employee and the farm.

If you’re automatically discounting unemployed applicants, your organization may miss qualified, talented workers. There are advantages to hiring unemployed people, for both the employee and employer.

We sometimes stereotype unemployed candidates as less desirable than those currently working, or unemployable (not able or not likely to get employment due to lack of skills/qualifications). However, that isn’t always the case. Is your screening process eliminating applicants that are unemployed?  If so, you could miss a candidate that might be qualified or could be a great fit for your farm operation.

First, you need to look at why a candidate is unemployed. Did they take time off to raise a family or relocate with a spouse? Were they displaced as part of a corporate restructuring or a major lay-off?

The pandemic left many employees without options. Sometimes even the best employees were caught in situations that were beyond their control. 

Don’t miss these advantages

Are there advantages to hiring an unemployed worker? Yes!

No need to give a two-week notice—one of the major benefits is unemployed workers’ ability to start immediately. 

In research, “lack of opportunities in my location” was unemployed workers’ most significant perceived barrier to finding a new job. Unemployed candidates are very flexible in their job search and more willing to relocate than candidates who are currently employed. Unemployed workers are also more likely to accept a pay cut compared to their last position. 

Keep an open mind when hiring for your next position. It may simply be a case where the applicant needs additional training. You may have heard the saying, “Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill.” Even if a candidate doesn’t have on-farm experience, look for other transferable skills from past industries or education.

Pre-employment personality tests and assessments can be an extremely effective method to determine if someone will fit your culture. It’s difficult to teach attitude. But if you hire for attitude, then it’s up to your team to teach the skills needed to succeed in your organization.

For additional hiring information and assistance, visit

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

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