Unemployed? Move Along...Nothing To See Here.

This recent trend has me perplexed -the trend towards including exclusionary wording on job postings which state in various forms: “The unemployed need not apply.”

Laura Bassett reported this recently on Huffington Post in her post titled: Disturbing Job Ads: The UnemployedWill Not Be Considered. She outs a few of the companies who are guilty of this practice and some politicians’reactions.

Hey Recruiters! What gives? What ever happened to “Let’s help America by putting her back to work one job at a time.”? Isn’t this prolonging the job crisis and unemployment by further dividing the “haves” and “have nots”?

After my initial reaction, I proceeded to take a closer look at this approach. I am always looking for ways to increase personal productivity and quality of candidates. Is the benefit worth the risk? Here are the pros and cons from the as I see them from the recruiting side:

· First, let me state, there is no law against discriminating against the unemployed, but statements like the above can get your organization into trouble. It can lead to disparate impact. Disparate or adverse impact is defined by the adverse treatment of one group over another by four-fifths. With the unemployment rate for Black Males at 18% in April 2010, and double the national average – this is a very real danger. (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics) Even if the disparate impact is unintentional, it is still illegal and the burden of proof lies with the employer.

· It reflects poorly on the organization. With a net loss of 8.2 million jobs since the start of 2008, the economic crisis has touched just about everyone in some way, shape or form. It reads as insensitive and elitist. By tacking statements such as “MUST be currently employed to be considered” at the bottom of job postings, the organization is cast in a negative light.

· It makes Recruiting appear lazy and whiny. The only benefit I can see with this approach from the organization’s point of view is that it might save the Recruiter a little bit of time screening resumes. But the negatives far outweigh the positives in my opinion. Corporate HR is constantly fighting to improve our reputation with employees, management and the community, so why would they approve such a statement when it coveys such an uncaring sentiment? Time over people? Not in the world where I want to live.

· It is counter-productive. With mass lay-offs and reductions in force becoming commonplace, there are bound to be talented people who got caught up in the misfortunes of company downsizing. Why exclude them if they were let go through no fault of their own? You might find a gem just waiting to be discovered.

· It won’t work. Many people are technically classified as “unemployed” but do some sort of work and could conceivably be an “independent contractor” depending on their definition, not Recruiting’s. And, of course, no one will lie on their resume – that never happens.

· Who would want to work in an environment where callousness is advertised to prospective employees? Probably not the best and brightest.

Chances are the professionals on the front lines of Human Resources and/or Recruiting
in these organizations had little or nothing to do with the final approval of this verbiage. In this climate of cost-cutting, these companies might not even have a dedicated recruiting
professional. It doesn’t matter who said it, approved it, or thought it up. It is still out there and reflecting poorly on the organization, and ultimately it could be decreasing the quality of applicants.

Maybe the author or the approver thought they were saving the unemployed some time by stating that their resumes would not make the cut, up front. But even the best intentions can result in negative consequences and statements like these in job ads should warrant a
second look.

Views: 260

Comment by Jerry Albright on June 8, 2010 at 10:43am
Hi Nikole. My wife is a Nikole as well - spelled with a "k"......so I'll go easy on you!

I never signed up to "put America back to work". My role since 1987 has been to recruit for my clients. I am not what they use to call an "employment" agency where those looking for work come and sign up for the jobs available. That might be a better place to help put unemployed folks back into the workforce. And believe me - I'm all for it!

But it's not my job.

My job is to recruit the profile of individual my client desires. If this profile is not discriminatory in nature I have no moral struggle with doing so.

I am recruiting several "leader" types for a client. Division leaders. The people running the show. They DO NOT want to interview people who either are now or have ever been let go, downsized, furlowed or otherwise terminated. They are not interested in they whys, wherefores, etc.

You see - these people will be in charge of making sure these business units stay profitable. To do so - they must accept responsibility for the livelihoods of the entire team. The client is not interested in anyone who (having been responsible for the success/failure of a company) made the decisions which led them to the unemployment line.

I feel this is a reasonable request.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on June 8, 2010 at 10:53am
I am getting the same input on certain positions. At some levels employers are aware that sales people and mid level managers were cut loose due to mergers, closures etc. but most employers take a look at their own people and know that they kept the key players if they had to lay off so the attitude when hiring starts again is ..we know who we laid off and why, we don't want those in key management positions who were the ones who were expendable when the going got rough.
Comment by Nikole Tutton on June 8, 2010 at 11:02am
Thanks for the comments. And I agree with your viewpoint from a third-party standpoint.

But, do you think that the practice might be counter-productive? Job postings have never been the best source for quality but once in awhile you do get a great resume. And if your client doesn't want to look at leaders who are unemployed, would you really put that in a job posting? Or just weed them out manually?

And coming from the defense & telecom industries, the disparate impact is particularly worrisome from a corporate recruiting standpoint. I'd be interested to hear you views on that topic too.

Thanks for going easy on me though. It's a great name - memorable. I like it :)
Comment by pam claughton on June 8, 2010 at 11:55am
I don't think it's wise to put that into a job description. Plus, there are always exceptions and sometimes great people are laid off when companies close offices, outsource, relocate resources, etc. I actually just placed someone who had been out of work for awhile, due to the company moving and also due to her background being extremely specialized and at a high level. As a sign of the market though, she had two very good offers to choose from and both came within a week of each other.
Comment by Alan Fluhrer on June 8, 2010 at 12:28pm
I would imagine that if the entire candidate pool is not being considered, the client may be acting narrow minded. And it is our responsibility to, at least, make sure they know about all qualified candidates, regardless of their current status.

In this economy, as in past recessions, there have been mass layoffs that included very qualified professionals that will make a great team member to someone.

Just yesterday a long time friend and professional colleague of mine called.

He had been summarily laid off, with others, in a quiet RIF, at a global consulting firm. We all know this firm if mentioned, this happened 2-4 months ago, I was his first call and did everything I could to help him find his next position, even if I didn’t get a fee. Don’t get me wrong, I am a capitalist at heart, but this is just the right thing to do.

The bean counters at this consulting firm, decided to let management know who should go based on overhead costs alone. My friend is a long-time industry professional that brings in a lot of business, more than covering costs. He and his other displaced colleagues were stunned by the layoff.

Payback is a B****, Fast forward to present…..every person laid off, has since found new jobs. And…..that consulting firm called my friend, admitted they made a mistake, and asked if he would come back. I don’t know, but I think I felt his grin over the phone as he told me about this.

I have many other stories like this and have placed a lot of good folks in these situations.

While I didn’t sign up to put America back to work, my firm looks at all candidates for the absolute best fit for our clients. How about we have the investment banks that asked for TARP, to be required to hire ‘X’ number of people that they helped displace?

Just a thought
Comment by Dave Hitchman on June 8, 2010 at 12:28pm
Anyone that applies for a job with such a short sighted and stupid company deserves to be shot (Darwin in action).
There are always many people unemployed for any number of reasons, from being useless to having been looking after a spouse, doing retraining, or redundant due to a company collapse. Some of these people are likely to be very good, and to exclude them for no good reason is just plain dumb, if the company is that dumb then you really really don't want to work for them!

Mind you, is this any more stupid than the other things you see in job postings?

Such as...

MUST have a degree - this seems a common refrain in software companies, frankly my degree was over 25 years ago, its relevance to modern computer software is non-existant, the best software engineers I have ever known/worked with didn't have degrees, they had learnt themselves.

MUST have experience of .... again, especially in software not relevant, a program is a program, ability to analyse what is required, write it accurately and efficiently is what is really important for an engineer. You notice the guys in charge (on the board) of many companies move from industry to industry taking 'good experience' with them, yet engineers can't move from bolting the wheels on a ford to bolting wheels on a crysler... its so dumb its almost unbelievable. Yet it is happening. If this happened in the film industry an actor would only ever get to play a single type of part - just where would we have found Dumbledore using these rules?
Comment by es on June 8, 2010 at 5:57pm
WHAT???!!!!!??? Am I really HEARING this ??? I am one of those very talented, experienced, unemployed people who has been destroyed by this depression. Yes, I did say DEPRESSION, because that is precisely what it is. It is not my fault, nor is it an indictment of my value as a professional, that jobs have simply disappeared. I recently had a recruiter brutally tell me that his clients would "balk" at my current status. Really???? REALLY??!!!!??? I find this attitude disgusting beyond what words can express. D I S G U S T I N G.
Comment by Charles Van Heerden on June 9, 2010 at 2:02am
Hi Nikole, thanks for putting this out there. Whether overtly or not, often managers will have certain requests. There are some requests that I believe are a gross abuse of power. Too often hiring managers forget they are also employed and not the shareholder.

When I identify those managers in companies I have been involved in, I encourage my HR teams to ensure there is a focus on skills - not on irrelevant details such as employment status (what about all the women returning back to work after a few years!). Those managers need a kick up their back side, or at least a look in the mirror to ensure they haven't turned into a werewolf.

Considering that the GFC is the biggest financial crisis most of us have seen in our lifetime, resulting in major job losses across many different industries and countries, it would be foolish for any recruiter to fish in a small and selective (discriminatory) pond, knowing that there are many talented people due to circumstances looking for a new role. Fortunately most job seekers will secure new roles, which will then put them back in the pond of the employed.

It is a sad reality that prejudice is alive and well. Employers that are serious about their employer branding will never subscribe to such unethical practices. Fortunately I have not seen any such job ads in Australia, though I am sure that the odds will mostly favour those in current employment, so why make it harder for the temporarily unemployed?

Having personally experienced three years ago what it was like for a company to be placed in receivership because of too much debt (not because the business was badly managed as it got sold within a week) but more as result of decisions taken by a bank that got nervous, I know how important good business decisions are.

Let me close with a question/decision - who would you like to have on your team?

A - Currently employed and frustrated executive that has not received a pay increase in the last year and feels it is payback to his manager for being too demanding due to business pressures; or

B - Unemployed and highly motivated executive that has experienced first-hand the risks of business remaining agile and appreciate the needs to remain highly competitive, willing to go the extra mile.
Comment by Valentino Martinez on June 9, 2010 at 2:39am
It’s a shame that some employers, through their hiring managers and recruiters, will discriminate against unemployed professionals. To implying that persons between jobs must be poor performers, otherwise they would still be employed is shear stupidity. Bypassing candidates who have been laid off, downsized, accepted a separation package, etc., because their last job was eliminated, shipped overseas, closed down, or was drastically affected by the worst economic recession in recent history, deserves a special distinction—that of “worst place to do business with”--and “even worse place to work for”. Like “A” ratings restaurants get such employers should be so distinguished.

Nikole, if these type of employers and recruiters are arrogant enough to openly admit that qualified but unemployed professionals need not apply to their job openings—they deserve to be outed and recognized as an aberration to common decency in the practice of business. Soon their customers will fall away and their employees will leave them for companies who embrace ethical behavior in their better business practices.

SHAME ON THOSE hiring managers and recruiters who actually victimize people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time relative to businesses that closed down, shipped jobs overseas, enticed early retirements and offered separation packages to accelerate downsizing efforts. I’m repeating myself because it’s worth repeating. Only a proud fool would embrace the logic that gives a pass to hiring entities like ENRON, WORLDCOM, ANDERSON CONSULTING, etc., on a large scale (with many thousands on a smaller scale) who caused the dismissal of outstanding professionals due to bad and even criminal management practices?

As a professional recruiter for the past 36 years, I’ve made it a point to distinguish between great, good and bad candidates—and recommend the best. And while it may not be your mission to help “America get back to work”, you can certainly recommend highly accomplished, highly qualified candidates who happen to be between jobs for good reason. I’ve always challenged hiring managers I’ve served over these many years to consider candidates who didn’t quite fit their template for what they sought in a candidate. I pointed out their great value and potential based on past performance. On many occasions many a hiring manager was made grateful that I did challenge them to consider candidates they would have typically passed on based on inane biases, traditions and outright discriminatory practices.
Comment by Nikole Tutton on June 9, 2010 at 9:45am
Thank you EVERYONE for taking the time to contribute your comments. They are add so much and all I can say is, WOW!


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