Wake up companies; 5 reasons to hire qualified UNemployed people

Let’s again give a wake-up call to employers who insist on only hiring passive jobseekers. In my mind there are five obvious reasons why employers should hire the unemployed. Can you think of others?

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 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.

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3 thoughts on “Wake up companies; 5 reasons to hire qualified UNemployed people

  1. Emily

    I have been unemployed for a year. The store I worked at closed permanently. Since then, I have applied to every job I can find. Some of the job postings have stated that the applicant must be currently employed, but I applied for the positions anyway. I did get 3 interviews with companies who had the “job requirement” in the job description. In all 3 interviews, it seemed as if the interviewer had not thoroughly read my resume, and had assumed I was employed because I applied for the job! In all 3 circumstances, I told the interviewer exactly what I thought of their requirement (in a calm, professional manner) and that I ignored the “must be employed” requirement because I have a lot to bring to the table, and that it was their loss if they didn’t at least give me a chance. I did not get any of the jobs, but I did get 1 referral to another position and I’d like to think that I was able to change someone’s point of view.
    My advice is to ignore the “must be employed” requirement, apply anyway, and be persistent. Sooner or later, someone with intelligence will recognize what an asset that go-getter attitude could be to their company.

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  2. Barbara Huck Stefano

    It’s been my experience that often, companies not only DON’T lay off the weakest links, they actually lay off the top earners. In other words, the people who worked hardest and performed best, only to be vulnerable to cuts because of their high salaries. To not consider someone for employment because they are not currently employed is short-sighted and does not consider all the possible reasons for unemployment. Shame on the companies who could be so silly!

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