5 reasons why companies should hire qualified unemployed people

What do companies like Beacon Hill Staffing Group, Gecko Hospitality, Kids In Sports, and 69 other companies like them have in common? They were all cited for practicing unemployment discrimination. Using terms like “must be currently working,” “currently working,” or “currently employed on a permanent basis,” these companies send the message “your kind are not welcome here.”

The list of 72 companies that might not hire you unless you already have a job was posted by Robert Johnson of Business Insider on July 13, 2011, a day after a press release by National Employment Law Project (NELP) was issued about how this practice of excluding unemployed people from being hired violates the Fair Employment Bill of 2011. He urges jobseekers to visit the list and stay clear of the companies on it.

This practice of discrimination is not news. Word of this circulated more than a year ago and showed up a number of times as questions on LinkedIn. “Have you heard that companies are not hiring people who are unemployed?” bewildered LI users asked. Disbelief was rampant among the LinkedIn community. Companies felt that during a recession the people who retained their job were the best workers; the unemployed were “damaged goods.”

There seems to be something inherently wrong with companies refusing to hire people who are out of work for one year, six months, and even three months. Here’s why, in my opinion.

  1. It is often beyond a person’s control when he/she is terminated. Evergreen Solar, A company that closed its plant in Devens, Massachusetts, terminated hundreds of outstanding workers. All very capable and diligent employees, they were not terminated due to poor performance. They were terminated because the company failed. As well, a company called Jabil Circuit closed its doors and was forced to release hundreds of loyal employees. How did Jabil react after laying off its people? It put out a whole page spread in the Boston Globe extolling the quality of its employees.
  2. The unemployed cannot be accused of not wanting to work. In fact, getting back to work is their motivating factor in life. They’re hungry and often times willing to start at entry-level, or for less salary than they were earning. Employers should see this as an opportunity, providing the unemployed are qualified for available positions. It simply makes sense to hire motivated unemployed workers, rather than some “passive jobseeker” who may be biding his/her time at a company.
  3. To improve the economic landscape, people have to work in order to pour money into suffering businesses. Doesn’t it make sense to hire a capable worker as opposed to someone who is already employed? You may reason that the person who leaves a company for the next one will be replaced by a new employee. Not necessarily. Companies and organizations aren’t quick to replace vacant positions. Reviving the weak economy must be a priority of employers.
  4. Rather than bring someone in from another company, hiring companies must first fill any job openings with internal employees first and then look for highly referred unemployed people. Jobvite’s annual report stated that employers’ number one preference in hiring someone is by referral. A highly referred unemployed jobseeker should be the employer’s first choice, not a “passive jobseeker” who is gainfully employed.
  5. It’s just plain wrong. As a workshop facilitator at an urban career center, I see the hopes of my customers crushed by being  interviewed a number of times only to find out that the companies deem them “not the right fit.” Hiring companies must show compassion and try their best to hire those who need the work. They have a moral obligation to hire qualified jobseekers, regardless of their age, disability, race, gender, or employment status.

I praise the NELP for condemning companies that won’t hire unemployed people. Visit the list of the 72 companies who practice this type of discrimination and stay clear of them, even if you are currently working.

This is a re-post from July 2011 but is still relevant, as companies continue to discriminate against the unemployed.

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4 thoughts on “5 reasons why companies should hire qualified unemployed people

  1. Janet Ritter

    Bob, great article. Did you see the “60 Minutes” segment (in Feb. I think) highlighting a group in SW CT helping the long-term unemployed who have used up all their unemployment benefits and have many skills, yet couldn’t find jobs? This seems like an effective program (with an internship at companies willing to hired experienced yet unemployed personnel). I am doing research to see if any sort of similar program is available in my state.

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  2. Michelle

    Thank you for posting this! I am currently unemployed after my company restructured and moved my department to another office out of my commuting distance I have the work ethic and skills that employers do want and am driven to get back to work.

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  3. Carla M. Valente

    Baltimore, Maryland has NOT passed the law where employers can discriminate against long-term unemployed applicants. I’ve been actively looking for a job for three years, since June 2009. November 2010 was my last payment from unemployment. I’m using our savings to meet living standards. So discrimination of long-term unemployed applicants, age, and whatever else they choose to condemn an applicant for, is legal in Maryland. My background is well-versed, including education. I continue to job search.

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