Candidates Experience Discrimination After Just One Month Unemployed

What does a worker who has only been out of work for a month have in common with one who has been unemployed for six months to a year? It appears they are both just as likely to be rejected for job based on their employment status (or lack thereof), even as legislators move to make "unemployed discrimination" illegal.

A recent Huffington Post article discusses a study in which 47 human resource professionals were asked to review resumes that were identical except that half stated the candidate was currently employed, and the other half indicated the candidate had been unemployed for one month.  The HR professionals gave the currently employed candidate higher marks for competence and hireability.

The study also found that unemployed candidates who are laid off are not viewed any more favorably than those who quit their jobs. However, candidates who were laid off because the company went under do appear to get more sympathy.

Employer's preference for selecting candidates who are currently employed is nothing new, but the practice came under fire last year when job postings emerged specifically stating that unemployed candidates would not be considered.  As a result, lawmakers on both the state and federal level have considered legislation against unemployed discrimination. New Jersey passed a law last year banning job ads that are found to discriminate against unemployed candidates. This past May, the District of Columbia took it a step farther with legislation that made unemployed status a protected class, according to the Littler Mendelson law firm. The law makes it illegal for employers in the District of Columbia to refuse to hire candidates based on their employment statuses.

So what are you seeing out there in the trenches? Do employers tend to reject unemployed candidates, even if they have only been out of work a short amount of time?

Views: 924

Comment by Jerry Albright on August 9, 2012 at 10:17am

Some fields have been hit harder than others.  In IT - there is no reason whatsoever to find yourself unemployed for 2 years.  Tech is as hot right now as I've seen in my career - even more than the Y2K hysteria.

Comment by Randall Scasny on August 9, 2012 at 10:48am


Your statement is not based on fact. Last year, I worked with an Microsoft veteran who was unemployed for 2 years. So, there are IT people who are unemployed. I can name more cases. But I've made my point.

Comment by Jerry Albright on August 9, 2012 at 10:52am

Randall - respectfully, you've hardly made your point.  Do you work in IT?  I have - and can say my desk is a fairly good snapshot of the IT Employment world. 


I have no idea of the situation behind the MS Veteran.  What was his background?  Was he hands-on or middle management?  Was his targeted salary in line?  Too many variables for me to guess at.

However - I'll stick with my first reply.  Out of work for more than a few months in IT?  There's a deeper issue.....

Comment by Randall Scasny on August 9, 2012 at 11:22am

About 40% of my clients are in IT or engineering. I would never say it is a "skills" problem that is the cause of their unemployment. Technical skills are really only the first screen of getting these folks re-employed. One of the big things I do is to un-teach/un-learn their misconception that only IT skills matter. So, perhaps the deeper issue you mentioned is my teaching them how to walk, talk and look at their hiring from the employer's point of view.

I've also seen IT workers who have made poor decisions and worked at the 21st century's version of IT "sweatshops". Of course, these people get fired for stupid reasons or bad management. So, they need help getting over the 'getting fired' hump. This is a big problem of the long term unemployed (6months and over), which is my specialty.

Of course, there is a movement within U.S. IT worker advocacy groups that allege that the corp-to-corp IT staff firms discriminate against U.S. IT workers. This article describes the alleged problem:

But this isn't my purview and I don't really know if it is a big problem.

I work with people who have been unemployed so long they fear their careers are over. It happens in every industry, not just IT. Of course, these are the 35 and over workers. Not the under 30 crowd.

Randall Scasny

Comment by on August 15, 2012 at 1:12pm

Betsy, is any job better than no job?  I think not all the time.

Consider this (some details changed or obfuscated to protect the innocent and guilty alike) situation.  Bob is 37 and worked in IT, mostly support but moved into programming/scripting as well, for 12 years and has worked for 3 different employers in that time.  He was with each employer for between 3 and 5 years. when he left the first to it was to move onto a better job.  The third company, where Bob was a team leader, created specialised devices with embedded processing and folded when their main customer off shored all supply and production to Asia.

Bob was unemployed for 3 months then took a job working part time (30 hours a week) as a care assistant for adults with learning difficulties to have some income coming in, more so he doesn't feel like he's mooching off his wife and can look his school age children in the eye.  He also works 5 hours a week as a volunteer for a local charity teaching elder adults how to use PCs, providing technical support for both the office and training kit and using online resources to keep his knowledge up to date.  Bob has recently self funded him self through a couple of courses on project management which lead to an internationally recognised certification.  Bob has been working as a care assistant for about 7 months now so lost his IT Team leader job 10 months ago.

Bob is ideally looking for a job writing code (basically what he was doing before the team leader job and then alongside it) with a view to progressing back to the team leader with project management responsibilities.  He realises that he will probably have to take a step back but is hoping it won't be too far back.  As luck would have it you have just such a job and Bob has all the essential skills and aptitudes required and most of the desirables.  You talk to him about the job, he's very interested and points out that it is very similar to the job he had before he became a team leader and a couple of his LinkedIn connections work at a different division of the same company. 

You send Bob's details to the hiring manager.  How many seconds do you think it will be from when the hiring manager picks up Bob's resume till when they drop it in the trash?  30?  20? 10?

In my experience it would be about the time it took them to read to the point where they saw that he'd taken a 'menial' job.  If your last/current job isn't close to what's on offer then that's a ding.  In the situation I described Bob would be better off avoiding mentioning the care work, or at least relegating it to low down the page or onto page 2, and emphasising the volunteer work.the self study and the courses

Comment by Theresa OKeefe on September 1, 2012 at 8:30am

In my experience both professionally and personally I have found employers DO discriminate against "unemployed" individuals, whether through their own decision or not. 

For example, I worked as an office manager for a large tax franchise and we needed to hire 50 to 60 people very quickly for tax season to fill tax preparer positions. This company wanted to pay a relatively low wage.  I suggested we look to the people registered on the EDD's job bank.  The owner said to me "you really think hiring people who are out of work are going to be "good" choices"?  This "so and so" was SERIOUS.  Here the guy barely wants to pay over minimum wage and the job is only going to last about 8 weeks and he had "reservations" about hiring people who have been unemployed.

I'm not sure if here in CA and legislation is in process to ban discrimination against unemployed individuals, but if there is we need better legislation than dictating how an ad is worded.  For a long time here in CA ads came right out and said "unemployed individuals will not be considered."  Now, ads tend to say "must have recent experience within xxx amount of days."  This time frame usually ranges from 30 days to 90 days, which of course will disallow many people from applying for the job.

The other issue is companies noting limitations on who can apply based on locality.  Many jobs state "local residents only will be considered."   I was thinking at one time of relocating to Florida.  I was thinking of buying a home down there, but I wanted to have a job in hand before making the move.  I applied for a job, did not require any moving assistance from prospective employers in the area.  Every single one replied "we like your background, but unfortunately cannot consider you for the position because you don't live in the area."

How depressing that I live in the USA, but cannot apply for a job wherever I'd like to live in the USA.  I have known individuals who got "addresses" in the cities they want to apply by using an address of a friend in that area or by using mail box addresses.  Either way, the whole situation is a sad statement of the situation, at least here in the USA, for unemployed individuals.

Comment by Dean Da Costa on September 2, 2012 at 2:44am

Like it or not, the reality is companies, hiring managers, and even some staffing professionals do discriminate based on current work status. It is our jobs as knowledgeable staffing professionals to try to change this.


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2021   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service