Attention hiring managers and recruiters -- do all unemployed job candidates have performance issues?

Over the past 20+ years, I’ve worked with hundreds of healthcare professionals in various stages of career transition. Sometimes they seek out my company’s services, striving to move up the ladder or switch career direction. Other times they are introduced to us via their former employer as part of a severance package or just after they were terminated. It’s the latter of these two scenarios that I want to address.

It is very easy to assume when someone is terminated or unemployed it is entirely their fault. Perhaps they did not perform to company standards, or maybe they did something wrong, right? This is, of course, always a possibility. However, years of experience has shown me this is very often not the case.

Top four reasons for unemployment:

  • Performance Issue - They did not meet the expectations/goals set when hired into that role. Many times personal issues cause the performance issue, especially if the employee had been in the role many years and the issue arose unexpectedly.
  • Politics - They did not “play the game” correctly or at all. Many high performing executives, experts in their fields, have found themselves “gainfully unemployed” due to not having navigated the political waters within their organization well. In other words, they found themselves on the wrong side of an influential person or persons.
  • Business Decision - In healthcare, with the many mergers and acquisitions occurring, it is quite possible that someone is let go because their team happened to be on the acquired side and the purchasing organization’s team makes a number of executive positions redundant.
  • Relational - If you haven’t developed a strong relationship with your boss or other key stakeholders, you may find yourself without a job. For example, one individual we worked with thought they had a fairly good relationship with their boss, but may not have spent enough time focusing on or cultivating it, because when the company reorganized the region, it created a job duplication with their job and a person from another region. The other person had formed a deeper relationship with their boss, therefore they were out.

Don’t make assumptions that unemployment is always a performance issue. To do so blinds you to really great candidates. A lot of highly qualified and specialized talent is displaced due to number two, three and four on the list – politics, business and relational decisions. I urge you to take a closer look at the applicants who are “gainfully unemployed” and really assess them based on their qualifications and accomplishments. Take the time to ask them what their story is, and really listen to what they tell you. More often than not, you will be glad you did and be able to bring exceptional talent to your client or organization.

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