New research finds that the majority of HR leaders believe that the stigma surrounding being unemployed has lessened due to the impact of COVID-19 and its toll on the labour market. 

Research from LinkedIn, the professional networking site, provides an insight into how HR leaders view unemployment and potential candidates who are unemployed.

Overwhelmingly, over four in five HR professionals (82 per cent) believed that, prior to COVID-19, there was stigma surrounding unemployment. However, just under half (47 per cent) now believe that this stigma has reduced. A quarter (27 per cent) think it has remained the same and a fifth (21 per cent) believe it to have actually increased during the pandemic.

Despite this, over half (51 per cent) of HR leaders surveyed reported that they would feel “more wary” about interviewing or hiring someone who is unemployed. Conversely, almost two-thirds (61 per cent) say they are very receptive to interviewing people that are furloughed or have been made redundant due the economic impact of the pandemic.

The majority of HR professionals surveyed –  over four in five (83 per cent) – believe that there are specific advantages to hiring people who may currently be out of work.

Specifically, two-thirds (66 per cent) identified unemployed candidates to possess more commitment to the role at hand, more resilience (48 per cent) and being more proactive (41 per cent) than candidates who are already in a job.

This aligns well with the traits that employers look for most when interviewing for a potential role including trust worthiness (62 per cent), positivity (59 per cent) and transferable soft skills (56 per cent).

Interestingly, research also shows that transparency when it comes to unemployment, for example candidates posting about being unemployed, is looked favourably upon by potential employers.  Over half see this as resourceful (53 per cent), showing proactive problem solving skills (48 per cent) and resilience (38 per cent).

Janine Chamberlin, Senior Director at LinkedIn, comments:

Businesses that fail to look past the stigma of unemployment will miss out on the biggest talent windfall in a generation. Forward thinking companies are focusing less on candidates’ current employment status and related previous experience, and more on their transferable skills, personal attributes and what they can uniquely bring to the business.

They are also supporting people as they transition into new roles by offering reskilling and professional development opportunities. With the high levels of people currently unemployed due to COVID-19, companies that assess candidates on their transferable skills will benefit from diverse talent pools and fresh perspective.

*This research was conducted by Censuswide, on behalf of LinkedIn, in November 2020. The online survey questioned 235 HR professionals in the UK that worked within medium or large organisations.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.