Dear Employer: About That Job Applicant On Welfare

Dear Employer:

I recognize you are extremely busy running your company, so I want to thank you in advance for reading this blog in its entirety. I promise it’s to your own advantage to do so.

You and I both know that the most important components to your business are the people who produce, market and sell your goods and services. You want people who are enthusiastic about the work they do, who are skilled, teachable, dependable, honest, competent, and will bring value to your business. As an Employment Counsellor and a consumer I understand those needs.

Just as you want honesty in your applicants, I ask you how you honestly feel about applicants who happen to be on social assistance or welfare? Are you open to hiring them on a level playing field with other applicants or do you have a prejudice against them based in part on media stories or even having had poor past experiences yourself?

Just as there are both poor and good employers, I acknowledge that there are both poor and good applicants on social assistance. While it’s true there are some on social assistance who fit with the bad stereotypes, there are a lot more who are extremely qualified and skilled, and would make a fine addition to your workforce.

With the tight economy we have today, it’s more important than ever that you hire the right people the first time. With the tight economy we have today, it’s also true that more and more highly skilled people have had to turn to social assistance to support themselves because gainful employment is so hard to find. I myself have this year helped a Cardiologist, two doctors, a Dental Hygeinist, and a Civil Engineer who are on welfare trying their best to get a job. Does that fit with a media stereotype?

The reality for people on social assistance is that they often have to deal with poor landlords who take advantage of their financial situation. They have children to care for as single parents after being abandoned by a spouse who was the bread-winner. They usually applied for welfare as a last resort, so their self-esteem is at an all-time low and now their references and skills are in danger of waning and becoming out of date. That gap on their resume is often getting bigger because other employers wouldn’t give them the time of day. And some employers exploited them and withheld payments, knowing they couldn’t afford to take them to court. It happens.

And more and more employers such as yourself are demanding people have a clean criminal record. First of all, most of the people on social assistance do have a clean criminal record. Having said that, there are some people on social assistance who committed crimes 20 years ago, and haven’t been in trouble with the law except that one time. The fees to start the pardon process are extremely high now; too high to pay when you’re on welfare, and it takes over 5 years to go through the process after you pay and initiate it. I know it’s an insurance and bonding issue, but think how grateful that applicant would be; how that would translate into a fabulous employee if you gave them a break. Don’t abandon all your safeguards of course, just be open to the possibilities….please?

It’s frustrating when they get no email acknowledgement of a job application. They ask for feedback when they don’t get an interview or don’t get hired but get ignored so they have no idea how to improve on future applications. A little empathy would be welcome and encouraging. Time is money of course, but you and I would seek feedback wouldn’t we?

Okay so you want some incentive. That social assistance or welfare job applicant comes with some attractive advantages to your bottom line that non-social assistance recipients don’t. That person probably has an Employment Coach or Employment Counsellor that they can talk to and get help from if they run into problems in your workplace to coach them through. They may also come with financial incentives that would subsidize wages, meaning you don’t pay the full salary as they get up to speed.

Some on social assistance these days are dealing with stresses and pressures that are a product of being vulnerable. They’ve been abused emotionally, physically or sexually. They deal with landlords who know the social assistance rates and charge the highest amounts they can. They can’t afford to eat three nutritious meals a day, sometimes having to choose between food on the table, bus fare to get around or a pharmacy prescription. Throw into the mix the stress of a prolonged job search and you’ve got someone who is a survivor living on a $4.63 per hour comparable.

The social assistance job applicant is resilient. They budget with very little, so they’ll be good at watching your pennies too. I understand you’re not running a charity and that’s good because I’m appealing to you to just give them a fair shake.

Call up a welfare or social assistance office and tell them your needs. We screen, coach and you save on advertising. Could be you’ll find an excellent applicant who comes with financial incentives and job coaching support who would be grateful for the opportunity to compete for the job you need filled today.

Thanks on their behalf. 

Written By Kelly Mitchell

Dear Employer: About That Job Applicant On Welfare was originally published @ myjobadvice and has been syndicated with permission.

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