MS non-profits: The longer unemployed the harder to find jobs

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Some South Mississippi non-profit organizations blame the assumptions and misperceptions of employers for making it harder for people who've been out of work for an extended time to find jobs. Recently, President Barack Obama called it "a cruel Catch-22." He said the longer someone is unemployed, the more unemployable that person may seem.

At Café Climb in Gulfport, young people are getting the training they need to find jobs in the service industry. Student Jamal Wright recently found work after a year and a half of looking.

"It was a big headache," said Wright. "Putting in applications on the Internet. Walking in places putting in applications. Trying to keep myself motivated."

Fellow student Ineka Johnson said, "They're going to look at this person has been out of work for this long, so maybe they don't have the skills to work here."

A recent study found if a person has been out of work for an extended time the chances of being called for an interview are 45 percent lower than someone with an identical resume who has been unemployed only a short while. President Obama is inviting companies to pledge to give the long term unemployed a fair shot.

"I think the initiative will be helpful because what it does is it puts a commitment from large businesses to look at people regardless of how long they've been unemployed to take a more objective view of the person based on their skills and experience," said J.P. Nicolais, Cafe Climb Development Director.

Hope CDA offers computer and interview skills training as well as resume building. Officials said assumptions made by employers are hurting job seekers.

"An employer looks at that and says, 'I wonder why that person has been off'," said Director Bill Stallworth. "They assume there has to be a reason why this person is still unemployed."

Officials say being out of work for a longer period of time doesn't mean there's not any hope. But that job seekers may have to try harder.

"The more you can do to convince an employer that you are that person; That you are the best thing since sliced bread. Do research. Look at the company. Know when you go in what they do and be knowledgeable about it," Stallworth said.

Stallworth said job seekers should consider volunteering for the businesses where they want to work to get an opportunity to prove themselves.

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