Local News

MetLife offers long-term unemployed chance to restart careers

Posted May 12, 2015 5:50 p.m. EDT
Updated May 12, 2015 6:31 p.m. EDT

— A Brookings Institution study last year showed that people who are unemployed for six months or more have a much lower probability of finding a job, so one Triangle company is trying to give qualified candidates a second chance at a career.

The Act2 program at insurance and financial services giant MetLife, which has a technology hub in Cary, provides a 10-week paid internship that ends with a job offer from the company.

"Sometimes, when you have an extended leave, it's really hard to get your name in front of the hiring manager, and this program really allows that to happen," said Jim O'Donnell, MetLife's chief technology officer.

Holice Robertson dropped out of the workforce for a couple of years after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2011. When he was healthy, he was ready to restart his IT career but found few available jobs.

"Because of the economy and a lot of very qualified folks being out of work, it was a very difficult chore," Robertson said.

O'Donnell said he sees opportunities in the long-term unemployed, not potential problems.

"It's a great pool of resources that we can tap into and bring into our organization," he said.

Robertson completed Act2 last year and landed a full-time job as an IT project manager at MetLife. He said he hopes other employers start taking a closer look at applicants who have been out of work for a while.

"Once you talk to folks and find out what their stories are, it make sense to come up with a program like this," he said. "The Act2 program at MetLife has been sort of a lifesaver."

All of the Act2 positions have been filled, but MetLife officials said they hope to expand the program next year.