- Many of today’s job seekers are unemployed for the first time in their careers, according to a Jan. 12 report from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
- As the firm fielded calls to its career help hotline in the final days of 2020, it became clear that "[t]here is a lot of pain occurring right now," Andrew Challenger, senior vice president said in a statement, citing the coronavirus pandemic; "Many callers reported they were out of work for the first time in their lives and had no idea how to even get started with the process."
- Specifically, hotline callers said they hoped to transfer their skills to new industries and some expressed concern that their age would deter hiring managers. More than half of 363 callers polled said they had been out of work for between four and 12 months.
While the unemployment rate has recovered somewhat from the start of the pandemic, many in the U.S. remain out of work. And as the Challenger report noted, some are unsure how to communicate or showcase their transferable skills.
In survey results released in May 2020, unemployed individuals said they struggled to understand or articulate the skills which will benefit them most in the job market. The LiveCareer findings also revealed that 58% said they were not confident they could find new jobs where their skills would be relevant.
More recent research has indicated that sector-based training could be the answer, equipping jobseekers with skills that could be applied at myriad employers in healthcare, manufacturing or other fields. Others, however, say it’s more of a communication gap, and that workers need a standardized way to communicate their transferable skills; several companies have floated solutions such as badges or "skill wallets."
The callers in Challengers’ research also may be appropriately concerned about age bias as well. AARP deemed such discrimination the “last acceptable bias” in a January 2020 report. Large employers sometimes tolerate age bias because the laws that protect older workers are "decidedly weaker" than those prohibiting other discrimination, the organization said. The U.S. House of Representatives in January 2020 passed a bill that would have lowered the bar for age discrimination claims, but a similar Senate bill never made it out of committee.