Hire the unemployed: There's a lot more than a tax break in it for you

Many businesses have the impression that if you are unemployed, it's somehow because you deserved it. It has been reported that many businesses won't even look at your resume if you don't currently have a job.


The ranks of the unemployed are disproportionately swollen with older workers, laid off by companies not only trying to reduce the size of their workforce but the payroll of the remaining workers as well.

There are many misconceptions at play here, many of which I admit to having as a hiring manager. But the perspective from the other side of the desk is enlightening and a bit humbling.

So let's start with this: Thanks to the stimulus, businesses that hire unemployed people to fill NEW positions before January 1 will receive a significant tax benefit, according to Gail Rosen, a New Jersey CPA.
  • The IRS will exempt you from paying the employers share of Social Security taxes (6.2%).
  • If you keep the employee for a full year and their salary is more than $16,129, you can claim a $1,000 hire retention credit on your 2011 income tax.
But there are so many other reasons to turn to one of the largest pools of experienced, tried and tested workers when you have a position to fill.

For example:

  • Older workers are having a harder time than other demographics finding a job. A recent article by The New York Times suggested that for workers over 50 laid off in this recession, the prospect of never working again is a dark reality. Click here to read the article. That tends to make them more appreciative of opportunity.
  • It's sale time! Unemployed workers who have been looking for work for many months and, in many cases, more than a year, are often willing to accept a sometimes significant salary reduction. Companies have an opportunity to bring on someone with more experience and expertise than they could normally have afforded.
  • Workers who have suffered the indignation and humiliation of losing a job know what is waiting "out there." They are likely to be more committed to doing a good job and less focused on looking for the next big thing.
  • Older workers have a lifetime of experience and seasoning they can bring to your workplace. The have "been there, done that" and can offer a different perspective than you might currently have on your team. That doesn't have to translate into being a "downer" for a younger team, but perhaps in providing another voice, a potential mentoring capability.
What they won't be doing:
  • Playing Farkle and growing vineyards and farms on their Facebook pages during the work day.
  • Bad-mouthing your company on public websites, social networks and to friends and family.
  • Shaving time out of the workday to work on their resume, go for interviews, or use your clients as networking contacts for their next job.
Many of the older unemployed worked for their former companies for decades. That kind of loyalty is less valued today, but the work ethic these individuals embody of commitment, hard work, and loyalty to an employer are a good fit for any business.

Finding an inhospitable job climate for their skills and experience, many of these workers have started their own businesses, consulting firms or freelance services. So even if your firm isn't hiring, you can find some outstanding talent in the ranks of freelancers and small service firms. These are often people you could not have afforded on your team just 3-5 years ago, whose services are now available to you on a contract or per-job basis.

Whether your business needs to ramp up for a project, staff up for a contract job or bring on permanent staff, you are in a fortunate situation.

Portfolio can help you with an array of expert freelancers in communication, HR, accounting, design and technology. We harness the power of decades of skill and experience to bring turnkey solutions to your business needs. Contact us for a consultation. And put our team to work for your team.