4 Approaches with Candidates Making More on Unemployment

Paradoxically, though unemployment is near 15% and so many people are out of work, some of my clients report having hundreds of open job orders they’re struggling to fill.
And for the first time in a long time, it isn’t due to the skills gap.
If a candidate declines a position due to health and safety concerns, we certainly respect that.
If childcare arrangements can’t be made, we respect that too.
But it’s frustrating when a qualified candidate declines an offer of work because they’re making more money on unemployment – often far more than what we’re offering them now and what they previously made.
Add the federal unemployment benefit of $600 a week under the CARES Act to their state unemployment benefit of even just $200 a week on the low end, and it’s easy to why the unintended consequences resulting from the CARES Act is making it hard for staffing firms to fill orders.
It’s a candidate objection that’s proven tough to overcome since the legislation took effect, and it will likely persist because despite expiring last Friday there’s a high likelihood it will be extended in some amount (yet undetermined as of this writing).
Meanwhile, staffing firms are trying to rebuild their businesses and take care of customers desperate for workers.
What’s a recruiter to do?
The short answer is to sell a candidate on the benefits of taking a job now versus taking a risk that could have significant financial and/or career consequences for them.
Here are four talk tracks to help manage the “I’m making more on unemployment” objection.

  1. Remind the candidate that starting this week, the additional $600 weekly federal benefit has ended, and no decision has been made about extending it. Add that even if extended, it likely will be far less than $600 a week they’ll earn going forward.
  2. Inform the candidate that with the pandemic far from over and businesses struggling to stay afloat, we cannot guarantee a position such as the one you are currently offering them – or anything remotely similar – will be available when their unemployment benefit ends.
  3. Encourage your candidate to take a long view of their career. Is the position you are offering them now providing them an opportunity to work for an employer of choice in their market? One which they may not have access to under normal economic conditions? A job that’s a step up from what they were previously doing? A position that pays significantly more than what they were previously making?
  4. Though many states have (supposedly) temporarily waived the requirement to be actively looking for work while collecting unemployment, there is a lot of confusion surrounding lifting this restriction https://www.marketplace.org/2020/07/22/some-unemployed-workers-must-prove-theyre-looking-for-jobs-to-get-benefits/ . Remind candidates that they should avoid turning down an offer of employment while collecting benefits as it is documented and may jeopardize their ability to collect in the future.

These are unprecedented times that require us to adapt to unique challenges every day.
But the one thing we know for certain is that people are craving a return to some semblance of normalcy. Working provides a welcome distraction from the anxiety and uncertainty of today’s times. Sitting at home idle does not.
And feel free to make that your 5th talk track!


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