It’s the common groan among recruiters when a candidate rejects a potential job opportunity saying, “I don’t want to mess up my unemployment.” Why? Because a statement like that reflects a lazy, entitled attitude towards work. Not two words you would put on your resume, now are they? Unemployment has its purposes and I’m not saying nobody deserves it or that the government should do away with it. Being on unemployment, however, is not something to brag about to your potential employer.
Periodic unemployment has been a reality since the 1920’s, but has changed drastically in perception and availability since then. In previous years, for example, collecting unemployment had a negative stigma attached to it. Today, however, it is almost a popular trend. I often hear, “I figured since I never collected before, I deserved it now” or “I’m gonna take my share.” Many people have a misguided idea of where the money comes from. It seems that the common perception is that unemployment funds come from the government, from everyone’s taxes. That’s true, but this is only partially true (individuals do not pay into unemployment at all and the government only contributes to special cases that are more the exception than the rule). Employers are the ones that pay into the unemployment bank.
So, if you act like you’ve deserved this money that they are forced to pay out from the revenue that they’re working to earn and build, and then make mention of having taken advantage of the provision it provides, likely, they will not be inclined to think of you too positively. You become a predator to their efforts and profits.
The biggest thing you can do to avoid this situation is to not abuse the system. States vary in their time periods of eligibility, but in any case the it’s never a good idea to collect until exhaustion (until the benefits “run out”). If you need to, utilize unemployment only while actively seeking other employment (as is its intended purpose). If an interviewer asks you why you haven’t worked in the past two years and your only response is that you’ve been collecting unemployment you will most likely be passed over. Why? Two reasons: first, employers want employees who want to work and have a proven record of self-initiative and commitment. Sitting at home, collecting “free” money (that wasn’t “free” for them!) does not reflect that.
Secondly, the chances are good that if you made the choice to sit at home and collect once before, you will do it again. Only this time it would be on their dollar. All they have to do is employ you for a minimum of 30 days and they become your unemployment beneficiary. Considering the employer could be required to pay you anywhere upwards of $100 per week for up to two years while you neither produce nor contribute anything to the company, you can see how this becomes a lose-lose situation for the employer. In the end, get unemployment if you need it and end it as soon as you can.
IMAGE: Courtesy of US Daily Review