Perceptions of veteran and previously homeless employability

Perceptions of veteran and previously homeless employability

Abstract:

Homelessness continues to be an overlooked epidemic that results in a multitude of problems, including: increased health conditions, financial costs, and difficulty gaining employment and housing. A major contributing factor to remaining homeless lies within the battle of gaining stable employment. While many personal and environmental factors exist that complicate homeless individuals’ success in gaining employment, the presence of negative implicit bias is a factor of which homeless individuals have little control. Studies investigating attitudes toward the homeless produced mixed results; however, most have found predominately negative attitudes. Among the homeless include a large number of veterans. Research also suggests the presence of negative stereotypes toward veterans, as well as unique difficulties in gaining employment. The present study sought to explore the effects of implicit attitudes on the employability of veterans, previously homeless individuals, and previously homeless veterans. All participants were provided one of four vignette conditions (previously homeless veteran, previously homeless civilian, non-homeless veteran, and a control group of non-homeless civilians) consisting of a cover letter and resume for an applicant applying for a financial aid advisor position. A total of 250 participants completed a questionnaire rating personal characteristics, job qualifications, rate of pay, occupational probation periods, strengths and weaknesses of the applicant, and a demographics questionnaire. Results indicate previously homeless applicants were perceived to have stronger qualities of empathy, approachability, and dedication to the job than non-homeless applicants; however, they were paid significantly lower rates. Female participants perceived veterans as more efficient, qualified, having better problem solving skills, more likely to succeed, and better able to handle stress, but offered veterans significantly lower pay than civilians. Trend effects revealed veterans were perceived as less dedicated, but better able to handle stress. Previously homeless veterans were given longer occupational probation periods and were paid significantly less by female participants, regardless of being rated as more approachable than non-homeless veterans. Overall, despite the outward expression of positive qualities, the imbalanced pay and longer occupational probation periods support that implicit biases exist and likely result in workplace inequality. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.

PUBLISHER: Spalding University
PUBLICATION DATE: 2016
LOCATION: United States