05/01/2013 04:48 pm ET Updated Jul 01, 2013

4 Reasons Not to Overlook the Long-term Unemployed

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In recent years, employers have created a bias against hiring job seekers who face long-term unemployment. Despite the number of increasing number of job openings, the long-term unemployment rates are still going up. This is because many employers don't want to hire people who were unemployed for more than six months.

Each day is a continual struggle for the long-term unemployed searching for jobs. Joe Carborne, founder of Platform to Employment, stated how some employers have "must be employed" in their job descriptions. Unfortunately, unless you live in Washington D.C., Oregon, or New Jersey, employers can still legally discriminate against the unemployed. Many states attempted similar legislation, but only three of them are still considering the bills. Because of this, people who are victims of long-term unemployment feel isolated -- and most of all, rejected by the job market.

What employers don't realize is the number of talented people they overlook because of long-term unemployment. It's understandable for you, as an employer, to be concerned when hiring someone who has a job gap in their resume. However, it's important to not allow unemployment to be the first determining factor in your hiring process.

If you're wondering how you can prevent this bias in your hiring process, here are four reasons employers should consider the long-term unemployed:

1. They have invested time developing their skills. Don't automatically expect an applicant who experienced long-term unemployment to be someone who hasn't done anything to improve their employment situation. Many people who are laid off from work invest time in learning new skills, improving the ones they already have, and earning new certifications.

2. They are filling the gap. People who are unemployed try to make the most of their time off from work. Whether they take the time to volunteer, start their own project, or find freelance work, the long-term unemployed continue to build their portfolios. By doing this, they are filling in the missing pieces in their resume with valuable experience they have gained through their independent work.

3. They have enthusiasm. You shouldn't always assume a candidate's reason for long-term unemployment is because of laziness. These job seekers are optimistic about finding employment and would be grateful for the opportunity to work for your company. They are itching to get back into the workforce and want to put their skills to use.

4. They are valuable employees. It's easy for you to look at a resume, notice their unemployment history, and think it's because of their lack of education or skills. Remember, unemployment doesn't equal uneducated or unskilled. Many companies are forced to lay off large departments, which means letting go of some of their best employees and talent.

Although your ideal candidate wouldn't have gaps between jobs, it's important not to jump to conclusions if you see this on a resume. If you receive a resume that illustrates long-term unemployment, don't throw it out immediately. Take time to consider how the candidate's skills and personality would fit the position.

As an employer, you can prevent this bias by having an open mind when you receive a resume that displays long-term unemployment. While it's easy to hire a candidate who was recently employed, you could be overlooking valuable candidates. When it's time to interview someone who has experienced long-term unemployment, ask them about what they did during that period of time. Most likely you will discover a talented candidate who is prepared to work for your company.

Have you hired someone with long-term unemployment in their job history? Share your experience below!