SHRM: It’s Time to Think Differently about the Long-Term Unemployed

Jan 29, 2014

HR association launches education campaign to dispel outdated assumptions about job candidates and promote inclusive hiring practices

WASHINGTON — Declaring long-term unemployment a significant challenge to the country’s economic recovery, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has joined a White House effort to address the problem that affects more than 4 million Americans.

“HR professionals must take the lead in addressing our historic long-term unemployment challenge,” said Henry G. (Hank) Jackson, SHRM’s president and CEO. “HR can be part of the solution.”

On behalf of the more than 260,000-member SHRM, Jackson has endorsed a White House statement saying that employers should commit to inclusive hiring practices and the removal of barriers that might prevent qualified long-term unemployed job seekers from being considered for jobs. SHRM is encouraging its members to also sign the statement.

Jackson will appear at a White House event Friday about the challenge of the long-term unemployed.

With the long-term unemployed making up 37 percent of Americans currently seeking jobs, SHRM is committed to educating HR professionals on the issue. SHRM is encouraging employers to review their hiring practices and break down barriers for job seekers unemployed for six months or longer.

“It’s time for some of us to begin thinking differently,” Jackson said. “In one of the toughest economies the United States has ever seen, unemployment on a candidate’s resume is more of a white flag than a red one. Employers must be able to recognize the human capital potential in the ranks of the long-term unemployed.”

As part of its education campaign, SHRM created a guide for employers to use to ensure that hiring practices are inclusive of the long-term unemployed. The SHRM employer guide encourages HR professionals to review their hiring practices to ensure that they don’t include outdated assumptions about job candidates. “In the current challenging economic times, many of the long-term unemployed are out of work for reasons beyond their control,” the guide says. “Consequently, an employment gap has less bearing on an applicant’s qualifications or probability for success.”

The guide is available on a special webpage along with additional resources, including practical job-search advice for job seekers.

SHRM is encouraging its more than 575 affiliated state councils and local chapters to offer educational programming about the long-term unemployed and to partner with community programs that focus on the unemployed.

“With millions of open jobs across the country, it’s time to take a fresh look at the long-term unemployed,” Jackson said. “There are many talented — yet underutilized — people waiting to fill those jobs.”

Media: Additional information is available on the Workforce Readiness Resource Page of

For more information or an interview, contact Kate Kennedy of SHRM Public Affairs at 703-535-6260 or and Vanessa Gray at 703-535-6072 or

About the Society for Human Resource Management
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing about 260,000 members in more than 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit SHRM Online at
and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.​


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