Wake up companies: 6 reasons to hire qualified UNemployed people

I was prompted to write this post when I came across the the post written by Robert Johnson of Business Insider on July 13, 2011. Even though this was eight years ago, I still see my clients, who are well qualified, struggling to find employment.


Do you remember when companies like Beacon Hill Staffing Group, Gecko Hospitality, Kids In Sports, and 69 others 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 sent the message “your kind are not welcome here.”

I Googled 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 urged job seekers to visit the list and stay clear of the companies on it.

Here are six reasons to hire unemployed candidates.

It’s outright discrimination not to

Word of this blatant discrimination circulated in 2010 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. Essentially saying 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. There are other reasons why employers should consider hiring qualified, unemployed candidates.

It is often beyond a person’s control when he/she is terminated

In 2011, Evergreen Solar closed its plant in Devens, Massachusetts, terminating 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 in 2009 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.

The Boston Globe at that time wrote: “Jabil earlier this year gained national attention when it advertised its plant closing and urged other companies to hire its ‘exceptionally skilled and experienced workers.’

I had the honor to help one of Jabil’s employees land a job and negotiate a higher salary. I knew of his reputation for diligence and quality work. He was a stand-up person, one I would hire on the spot. Granted when we first met, he was extremely upset and give me shit when I was leading workshops for the employees.

Who says employed workers are good workers?

I was prompted to share this article after reading a post on Linked last night that reminded us that employers prefer to hire people who are employed: “You are MORE DESIRABLE when you have a job.”

I found this statement offensive because it’s demeaning to good workers who are unemployed and, more importantly, employed workers don’t always make strong employees.

In fact, I’ve known employed people who are terrible workers. They were incompetent, surely, and generally a bad fit. The assumption that employed workers are good workers is faulty.

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.

The same Globe article reported: “And yesterday, dressed in a gray pinstripe suit usually reserved for weddings and funerals, Mitchell, 59, interviewed with Raytheon Corp., which sent 14 recruiters to the Jabil career center as it tries to fill up to 50 skilled manufacturing jobs.

“I’m hoping,’’ said Mitchell, who has worked as a solderer, inspector, and packer of circuit boards. “I’m no good at hanging around. I want to work.’”

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 job seeker” who may be biding their time at a company.

Hiring the unemployed improves 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. (The average time to hire is now 30 plus days.) If they do fill the vacant position, they typically fill it with someone they know.

Employers’ number one preference of hiring someone is by referral. A highly referred unemployed job seeker should be the employer’s first choice, not a “passive job seeker” who is gainfully employed.

It’s just plain wrong

As a workshop facilitator and career counselor 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 job seekers, regardless of their age, disability, race, gender, or employment status.

I can’t lie or hide my disgust when my clients ask me if employers are more likely to hire employed people, rather then hungry job seekers. This fact turns my stomach and makes me even more determined to empower unemployed people land their next job.


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