Unemployed Need Not Apply

Monday, August 01, 2011

New York Times economics reporter Catherine Rampell discusses the recent trend of help-wanted ads specifically asking for only the employed to apply. Is this fair? Rampbell also takes calls about the experience of coming across such ads.


Catherine Rampbell

Comments [70]

Carla from Austin, TX

This is wrong on so many levels, many of which have been discussed by other folks who’ve posted.

It is wrong because folks on unemployment are required to apply for jobs. There is only a finite number of jobs available in any given field/occupation. Reducing that number further by this arbitrary requirement is disheartening.

Being long-term employed can be related to the fact that 100s of applicants are applying for each job and therefore your resume simply doesn’t get seen as opposed to having been actually rejected.

How can a company ever feel secure that its employees will stay loyal if it is only willing to virtually poach workers from other companies. Wouldn’t it be better served by interviewing (and possibly hiring) someone who worked for a company for many years and was laid off?

Aug. 04 2011 10:41 AM

This is just wrong. I think that employers are also looking down their noses at temp workers. I've been doing temp work for 18 months and have had a few interviews, but the employers seem not to be serious about hiring at all. I was laid off along with many others at a law firm that made more in 2008 than in 2007. They laid us off in Jan. '09. I'd worked steadily for 34 years. Now I'm almost 60. This is not looking good. Now one of the firms where I temp is cutting temps and using an outsourcing firm.

Aug. 04 2011 12:31 AM
Mr. Bad from IL

@ nancy from nyc

This is a really funny short story Nancy, I guess that was your major, creative writing? Hard times X2 for you I'd bet. Listen, if you're THAT DUMB to reply to an ad that entailed any sort of sex appeal as a prerequisite and you're not an exotic dancer I do feel for you, mostly because you're THAT hard up.

But seriously folks, Nancy makes a good point, and that is that the young/sleek are what sells but that is not the ONLY thing that sells. Don't lose faith in yourself, but do take care of yourself, and don't be discouraged by scum that judge you solely on appearance, depending on your skills it really may not matter but these are the times that try the souls of men and women.

My 2nd free advice is don't "go out hard" unless daddy or hubby is set. Are you a rock star? I mean really, when you walk in the door is management high 5'ing you? Are your contemporaries deferring to you in every meeting? If not you may not be a rockstar, in which case you should lay off the rockstar demands...

You know what I mean. Let me tell you that 20%
of the responses I get to my ads are people that are angry that they can no longer command the salaries they used to, they argue and embarrass themselves, I don't think it's funny, I feel bad, really. Some people have become used to a "Lifestyle" and are upset they can no longer live it. DECIDE. I've made myself clear I think. DECIDE, and best of luck either way, I'm hurtin' too....

Aug. 03 2011 09:02 PM
nancy from nyc

Went Fishing and Came up With A Snake
By Nancy Koan

Like many intelligent people in this country, I am without a steady job. True, as an artist, I’ve oft avoided fulltime employment, but now that I recognize needs like eating and medical care, I am on the hunt. So besides telling everyone you know that you’re looking, one spends endless hours cast adrift in the online job-hunting seas. It is getting more and more difficult to just sit and wait as the A/C bill climbs to NASA levels.
To be fair, there was some work… a casting agent was looking for actors to portray the recently dead who are available several days in August and September. They didn’t specify what recently dead should look like.
Next was to examine my personal inventory to see what I could get rid of. Selling off things, besides one’s internal organs, of course, seems like a top idea, especially for a hoarder like myself, and so on Sunday I went onto craigslist. I was going to post a notice for my beloved neon cafe road sign which ironically spells out America’s Best. There is no gas in the red ruby tubes, another metaphor for the political climate; but it is a beauty if you go in for signage. While on craigslist, I decided to take a look at the day’s available jobs. And to my great surprise, there was one that looked slightly doable. It was for a small office, seeking a well-educated, versatile, organized, outgoing assistant, with flexible hours and competitive pay. I applied, offering references from colleagues familiar with my ‘friendly-people’ skills. This is what I received back.

Dear Nancy,
Thanks for the reply. I run a small asset management firm in midtown.
I'm looking for a very reliable, prompt, intelligent, educated assistant to support me. . I also want to have great chemistry with my assistant. Someone really sexy, lots of flirting, playfulness and tons of fun between us. The hours and compensation are extremely open for the right candidate. I'm looking to fill this position asap..

Well, I liked the intelligent chemistry that was expected, but was totally surprised by the sex curve. It’s not as if the ad had been running in the Miscellaneous Dating Category, so I wrote him back for clarification:
I'm slightly confused by your reply. Can you please be more specific so that I can determine whether this is a position worth pursuing.

To his dubious credit, he responded with a simply ‘more personal’. I laughed, threw the ad into the trash, and continued pecking around for other jobs. It wasn’t until later though that I got really peeved, spoke to my pal in Human Resources and considered the truly predatory nature of his request. People are desperate for work and those with power can be abusive. This guy figured he could combine multiple job functions, secretary, UN peace negotiator and Playboy bunny into one paycheck. Now there’s little option/take it or leave it.

Unfortunately, it’s getting tougher and tougher to just leave it.

Aug. 03 2011 07:42 PM
Mr. Bad from IL

@ Patrick from Newark

Bit of a broad generalization, doncha think? I've met plenty without work worth hiring, even if they didn't present perfectly. Cosmetic stuff shouldn't figure that highly into hiring as it does now - in the past some of my best placements (promoted!) were borderline dressers. As often as not a perfect interview makes me suspicious.

@ Former Manager from New York City

What "arbitrary concepts" are you talking about? When I send someone who has been out of work for even 1 month I get questioned about their b.g. - I send the best person, WTF are you talking about? Recruiting isn't brain surgery, mostly it's intuition, the bright lines are drawn by HR.

@ Eeyore from NYC

You must be C level, and talking out your @ss. Do you trust your "HR Generalist" ... LOL. Most of these people are failed secretaries moved out of administrative for pity. Paying 25% to some douchenozzle with a HD full of ancient resumes is lame to be sure, go with an independent, we are around, just ask.

@ Chuck McConnell

Holy overhead batman, way to go with the MBA speak, this guy is going to make 6 figures on the strength of his inane post alone and that is everything that is wrong with hiring.

Aug. 03 2011 07:08 PM
Chuck McConnell from Stamford, CT

Being out-of-work increasingly has become a basis for candidacy rejection. We have identified this problem for many years. It is an employment condition that gives pause to external and internal recruiters, HR screeners and the hiring decision makers. Their assignment is to identify qualified candidates who are employed as well as able to meet the job specifications. To recommend a candidate who has been in search for more than a month or two can call into question the performance of the talent-sourcer as well as the quality of the candidate who, if truly superior, should have been picked up and hired as soon as available.

This year, we have seen dramatic increases in the numbers of job-searchers who have been in transition for more than six months. That condition contributes to many qualified people just giving up or willing to accept a position that fails to meet their goals. That condition also may lead to a downward spiral in terms of future employment opportunities and individual confidence.

Stewart, Cooper & Coon answers this condition for our clients by creating our unique Web Portfolio that we use as the primary qualifications presentation piece.

Some additional thoughts re techniques to avoid hiring bias against those who are unemployed:
1) While current discrimination against unemployed people may be illegal and unfair, it does little good to merely accept the reality without attempting to rise above it. That may be done by aggressively positioning a job hunter’s campaign, focusing on accomplishments and success stories.
2) Leading with a candidate’s documented success stories is the method SC&C uses with our clients to focus hiring authority attention on the positives, the promise that a candidate is able to contribute to the targeted new employer based upon those results delivered in the past.
3) Stories, if framed skillfully, are able to be understood, to resonate and be remembered by hiring authorities. Responses to interview questions that relate to past job-related achievements allow individual passion and enthusiasm to be highlighted…regardless of current work status and transcending the out-of-work designation.
4) S.H.A.R.E. narratives position the events and the results in a memorable statement that supports the candidacy while de-emphasizing the currently unemployed status. Situation/Hindrance/Action/Results/Evaluation…replaces generic claims of value with documented and substantive assertions of core competencies/attributes that can be transferred into the new work situation.
5) SHARE stories allow the reader to read and understand the candidates’ ability to address problems and create valuable solutions.
6) The positioning goal achieved creates “preferred candidates” who have taken the time to be value-branded in a manner that is backed up by specifics…all leading to winning against the competition regardless of current work status.

Aug. 03 2011 10:30 AM
Eeyore from NYC

I just finished a period of unemployment and as soon as you are in work the phone rings to move you. Before it was hard to get interest. The old recruitment agency and headhunter models are performing very poorly for their clients. Their laziness in looking for candidates and their fear of people who are unemployed or who have a gap is utterly ridiculous. HR departments also deserve the low esteem they seem to enjoy universally across business

Aug. 03 2011 07:20 AM
Former Manager from New York City

The sad thing is that HR departments and recruiters create these arbitrary screening concepts and the poor managers who are actually trying to hire someone to work for them are left wondering why they aren't seeing any good candidates. I bet there are managers out there who would love to pick up some of the talented people who used to work for Goldman or some other company that went under but aren't getting to interview them because the HR people have ruled them out. When large companies like that go under there is a glut of qualified people on the market so it takes a lot longer for someone to find a job, especially in the depressed economy we've had where an extraordinarily large number of companies have had to let qualified people go. And, by the way, going back to school is not the answer. Usually, people find that once they've completed their studies it makes zero difference in their marketablility. They've just wasted money that they could ill afford to spend.

Aug. 02 2011 08:27 PM
An Unemployed from NYC

TO Patrick from Newark ... QED ..

You are a complete, (I want to say idiot, but will settle for bigot) because you want to broadly paint every unemployed person with the same stroke. Your limited experience in Newark is a far cry from the general economic conditions job applicants today.

More to the point, I was in a position to hire in my past roles and I will say POINTEDLY we avoided all Recruiters because none of them were worth the money. You don't have a future in this job market and age of technology. Good Luck with that! Idiot!

Aug. 02 2011 07:47 PM
Patrick from Newark

I've managed two different staffing companies. Companies that placed people as consultants or contractors in the IT business. You have to realize....the idea is to bring the right consultant to the right team. So, if I were placing an IT person at IBM I KNEW the team and team leader. I knew the personalities and how they worked together. I wouldn't take a poor fit to them, not matter what their skills, as I'd never get a call back to place another. You can't imagine how many candidates show up without showering, wearing white socks and high-water pants for a professional atmosphere and expecting to be accepted as they are. It just doesn't happen. If you've been out of work for a year......there is a reason, not your skills.

Aug. 02 2011 06:06 PM
Mr. Bad from IL

@ thatgirl from manhattan

OK, fair point, I was a little unclear. When I first wrote "unemployed" I was indeed speaking of the long term unemployed but I failed to qualify the term out of haste.

As for your analysis, I think it's a little off but you're entitled to your opinion. Anyone who is laid off or fired in the present environment is likely to become 'long term unemployed", like it or not. And anything over six months out of work IS considered long term unemployed by most employers in terms of what it means to them in the hiring process, but not in terms of social analysis or individual impact obviously.

When you write that there is a "huge difference" between the long term unemployed and recently unemployed I fail to see it. As the guest mentioned you're damned if you were laid off in the middle of the squeeze (too long gone) and if you were recently laid off/fired you're likely a bad employee or just dead weight (from an employer's perspective).

This is a bad job market and employers are still making productivity gains, hoarding cash and digging in for a long winter. Absent a huge government jobs/retraining initiative the unemployment rate will be north of 8% for the next 10-20 years.

If you want some advice for free here it is, and it will be a huge boon to those of your, ahem, friends who have to "dumb down" their CV's to get a look see: You aren't fooling anyone, it's an acceptable "lie" to do so, a lie of omission, and a tacit admission you'll work for less so do yourself a favor, and I really mean this, ditch the entitled attitude. You may be in the "right" and the world is a bad place and employer's are stupid and misguided but one whiff of sarcasm or entitlement and it's over so decide before you call back which you want more, a job or more time on the couch watching the BBC.

Aug. 01 2011 04:11 PM
Mr. Bad from IL

@ thatgirl from manhattan

OK, fair point, I was a little unclear. When I first wrote "unemployed" I was indeed speaking of the long term unemployed but I failed to qualify the term out of haste.

As for your analysis, I think it's a little off but you're entitled to your opinion. Anyone who is laid off or fired in the present environment is likely to become 'long term unemployed", like it or not. And anything over six months out of work IS considered long term unemployed by most employers in terms of what it means to them in the hiring process, but not in terms of social analysis or individual impact obviously.

When you write that there is a "huge difference" between the long term unemployed and recently unemployed I fail to see it. As the guest mentioned you're damned if you were laid off in the middle of the squeeze (too long gone) and if you were recently laid off/fired you're likely a bad employee or just dead weight (from an employer's perspective).

This is a bad job market and employers are still making productivity gains, hoarding cash and digging in for a long winter. Absent a huge government jobs/retraining initiative the unemployment rate will be north of 8% for the next 10-20 years.

If you want some advice for free here it is, and it will be a huge boon to those of your, ahem, friends who have to "dumb down" their CV's to get a look see: You aren't fooling anyone, it's an acceptable "lie" to do so, a lie of omission, and a tacit admission you'll work for less so do yourself a favor, and I really mean this, ditch the entitled attitude. You may be in the "right" and the world is a bad place and employer's are stupid and misguided but one whiff of sarcasm or entitlement and it's over so decide before you call back which you want more, a job or more time on the couch watching the BBC.

Aug. 01 2011 04:09 PM

i have been looking for work over a year in arkansas. I went to a temp agency that turned me away because I had not been employed in last six months. The woman could not give me a reason why. I found it strange and just accepted it as a company with strick hiring codes. I AM SAD TO SEE AMERICA BEING DESTROYED BY GREEDY RICH BUSINESS OWNERS AND GOP WHO ARENT WILLING TO PUT ;LAWS INTO PLACE THAT PROTECT ALL AMERICAN PEOPLE!

Aug. 01 2011 04:07 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

mr. bad - you went from referencing, simply, the "unemployed" cohort to qualifying the unemployed as "long term unemployed". if you're a recruiter, you know there's a huge difference.

i didn't make reference to the "long term unemployed" because that's not the cohort to which i was referring. i am talking about the recently (for the sake of argument, let's say unemployed within the past year) unemployed who are that way because flattening the experienced management layer is one popular way of saving on wage expenses for that cohort. according to recruiters and employees alike, this has led to candidates purposefully dumbing down their experience on their CVs in order to get a call back. it may not be "right", but it points up the reality of employment and job search at this time.

it's not wholly unlike my experience in watching contemporary BBC films and dramas--it's so quaint how they continue to hire middle-aged, talented people with experience, rather than cheap, inexperienced people that are believed to be malleable.

Aug. 01 2011 02:49 PM
Eugenia Renskoff from Brooklyn, NY

Hi, It is so frustrating out there! I have been unemployed a long time and the unemployed need not apply issue makes it even harder for me. I often wonder what new things they (employers) are going to come up with next. Maybe they don’t mean to be mean, but that is what they are. Are we supposed to live on nothing? And are my many skills worthless? Going back to school without money to pay for scholl is not an option. Eugenia Renskoff

Aug. 01 2011 01:03 PM
Luna from Los Angeles

I'm a former NYer living in LA and I listen to WNYC almost every day. I'm 57, have been out of work for 2 1/2 years and don't see anything changing. I have a Masters degree and have worked in marketing for blue chip companies. I've applied for similar jobs and everything from admin to retail and gotten nothing. I've gone through my savings and have no family so when I run out totally I am considering killing myself - what option would I have to survive....

Aug. 01 2011 11:55 AM
Mr. Bad from IL

@ Peter Talbot from Harrison, NJ

Right on all counts. You can add to that what I call "sad sack" syndrome. People who are long-term unemployed are often pathologically demotivated, especially those who DO have the tools and good social skills but for whatever reason have been passed over - the bitterness is palpable. If you're long term unemployed get therapy or do whatever you need to do to stay upbeat and self possessed.

Aug. 01 2011 11:52 AM
Mr. Bad from IL

@ thatgirl from manhattan

It's not an argument I make or support, I thought that that was clear. It is an expectation my employers have, and like I said it tends to be true in my experience. Not always and certainly not in every case but most of the time the long term unemployed have substandard skills and are generally less desirable candidates personality wise.

I believe everyone has a right to work but this is something that needs to be addressed with a government program or legislation. The downside of capitalism is that it creates "losers" irregardless of their skills/talent/ability.

But for the grace of god I go the same way - l'm a contractor so I have 0% job security, I don't much like that either.

Aug. 01 2011 11:41 AM
Peter Talbot from Harrison, NJ

Here's what employers get out of hiring those currently employed:

1. lower likely benefit costs for health care. People unemployed for a while are more likely (substantially more if unemployed for more than a year) to bring claims to the company benefit plans not excludable as "pre-existing conditions."

2. people currently working in many business industries and technology jobs (especially programming, etc.) are much more likely to be au courant with both market and technical skills and therefore have a much, much shorter learning curve in moving to a new company. Since many companies actually do little or no on-the-job training any more, this can be a critical consideration.

3. by restricting to those currently employed, HR departments get to completely ignore those out of work, effectively removing some undesirables from their candidate pools. Those undesirables would include: difficult personalities let go in other corporation's own downsizings; older employees let go in other corporation's downsizings; minority employees let go in other corporation's downsizings. In short: this "catch-all" may be a legal but less than ethical way of bringing back in discriminatory practices that are outlawed if practiced directly on an application "on its merits". The fetish with which many HR departments pursue this line of enquiry is a good indication that should be made illegal as a cover for ageism and other forms of employment discrimination in the USA.

Aug. 01 2011 11:38 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Do we want a moral economy? In the next town from here they kill unborn children legally and make money. It's not an entirely moral economy as it is.

Aug. 01 2011 11:38 AM
Mr. Bad from IL

I'm not trying to pile onto the unemployed folks but let's be honest here, demand drives the job market, like all markets. There is no real demand other than attrition openings, corporations can be selective and business is an amoral activity, no argument there. It's up to society as a whole to make demands on the legislators and the law to create and uphold standards and social mores like viable employment. Forcing employers to police themselves is asking the fox to guard the chicken coop.

I would advise against lying on your resume unless it's an entry level position where your background/references will likely not be checked. Personally I have no problem with it, I think it shows ambition (so long as it's not concealing a problematic criminal history) but if you nail the interview and your references/job history turn out to be faked 99.999999% of the time you're not getting the job, and that can a real blow to your morale.

Aug. 01 2011 11:37 AM
ADELE bENDER from Queens, New York

Re: Unemployed need not apply; What are people expected to do? Sell Apples?> Some odf my own thoughts reflect upon that okld movie called the Grapes of Wrath - Is this where thiscountry is headed?

Aug. 01 2011 11:36 AM

My company laid off people over 50 but is only hiring people under 30...

Aug. 01 2011 11:36 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Australia at the moment has only 4.9% unemployment. Check there for job opportunities.

Aug. 01 2011 11:35 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

mr. bad - that argument falls apart when one considers the volume of layoffs based solely on a company's need to save money; i.e., mid/senior managers with more experience whose salaries are higher are getting chopped in favor of more "worker bees", managed by fewer of these mid/senior managers.

Aug. 01 2011 11:34 AM
RJ from prospect hts.

Why on earth is anyone surprised at this? This is a defining function of capitalism--"investor"--that is people who already has money--is the only genuine consideration.

And while the Congress is currently "talking" about multiyear budget planning to reassure bondholders, when a community-oriented ideology--the theoretical bases of, say, democratic socialism--which among other tenets recommends long-term planning for the communal good, rather than the wealthy--is horrifically unpatriotic, destructive, boogeyman vampire.

Do people actually hear themselves talk?

Aug. 01 2011 11:34 AM
Inquisigal from brooklyn

I take issue with your guest referring to restaurant work as "low level." If you work at any number of bars or restaurants in NYC, you are much more likely to get hired if you have a college education or have attended a 4-year culinary school.

Not every restaurant is a diner or fast food joint, and a high level of wine and food knowledge is required to work in both the front and back of the house, and general business sills, as well as top-shelf interpersonal skills, are required to actually make good salaries. People get these via having an education and/or long-term similar work experience.

Aug. 01 2011 11:31 AM
Phil from Park Slope

This is clearly a barrier to economic recovery. If the percentage or people who are unemployed are disallowed from becoming employed, the unemployment rate can't go down. Sounds like it should be made illegal.

Obviously, the argument that someone who has been unemployed couldn't possibly be qualified to work in tech, but that some kid right out of college could be qualified is absurd. Companies really just want to hire the cheapest possible labor, and kids are easier to exploit than adults.

Aug. 01 2011 11:31 AM
Karen Anne from Setauket

Sadly, it is worse than it seems -- UCLA research by Shih and Ho and others from Stony Brook shows that once someone learns someone is unemployed they see them as less qualified, less skilled, less hirable even when identically matched!

Aug. 01 2011 11:31 AM

Even if this practice is not explicitly written on the wanted ad, the company can still put into practice when receiving resumes from applicants. They can practice it in silent.

Aug. 01 2011 11:30 AM

As a very small business owner struggling in a tough economic climate, I see this - harsh but tru- as a matter of time management. An ad on Craigs List for a basic $10 per hour manual labor job can result in 150-200 resumes. Anyone evaluating resumes has to establish a criteria for filtering, and someone out of work for two years is easier to dismiss than someone still working or recently laid off. Whether you advertise your criteria or not, anyone evaluating job applicants has to come up with their own measure of who to pursue.

Aug. 01 2011 11:30 AM
Jonn K. from NYC

Just lie to these companies.
They deserve it.
Say you've been employed, get your friend(s) to vouch for you.
When you read these job ads, these companies want the world, and aren't willing to pay for it.
Lie about anything you can get away with, they will bait and switch salary and ridiculously low-ball you with negotiations.
On top of that they will discriminate against the unemployed????
Just lie. They deserve it.

Aug. 01 2011 11:28 AM
Mr. Bad from IL

I work as a recruiter and IMO this is a cruel, stupid practice but most employers lack someone with judgment to make good hiring decisions and they want to play the averages, and someone moving vertically or laterally in the job market TENDS to be more skilled/desirable than someone who is unemployed. JMO

Aug. 01 2011 11:28 AM
Jeff from Manhattan

What about people who have been unemployed for over 6 months, who were not laid off but graduated (advanced degree) last winter, yet cannot find a job?

Aug. 01 2011 11:28 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

People should do more to look for work abroad. There is a lot of opportunity in Brazil, or possibly in China or India, and many other countries. People should not limit themselves merely to a slow-growth economy like the US. THere is a big world out there, and someone out there might find your talent useful that a domestic country might not.

Aug. 01 2011 11:28 AM
Melissa from NYC

Being laid off doesn't mean that you spend your time stagnating.

I was laid off 4 years ago when the economy started to tank. After that I started my own business. Having my own business has been what of the greatest learning experiences of my life and has seriously enhanced my skills. Now I am job hunting and it is a slow, depressing process.

Aug. 01 2011 11:27 AM
Jill in Manhattan from Manhattan

What about unemployed applicants who are trying to change careers?

For future discussion (publishing, especially) -
What about Web job postings for which the hiring manager already has his/her job hire in mind? It is a waste of time for applicant to work on a revised resume and cover letter--but there's no way to tell what is a real "open" position"---and what's a smoke screen.

Aug. 01 2011 11:26 AM
Amy from Manhattan

So interview those candidates & ask them what they've been doing to keep their skills/knowledge up to date! Don't just assume having a job is the only way to do that & not interview them at all.

Aug. 01 2011 11:24 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

there are other ways companies are discriminating in hiring, such as the common use of credit checks to screen candidates. where's the outrage for this egregious measure? for many positions, it's simply an invasion of one's privacy, and no indicator of predicted performance.

Aug. 01 2011 11:24 AM
Renate Bridenthal from Manhattan

An employer friend of mine tells me that it is also common to eliminate job seekers in a first cut by looking at their last salary. She and others, she claims, will not hire people who earned more on their last job than she and they offer now because the worker would be resentful and not do well. This means that people willing to re-enter the labor market for less money, can't get hired either.

Aug. 01 2011 11:24 AM
ep from nyc

Before the economic downturn, I worked for a prestigious non-profit. They liked to hire people who had been out of work because they would be more diligent workers if hired.

Aug. 01 2011 11:24 AM
bub from manhattan

i don't understand why this would be happening, with so many people looking for jobs wouldn't it make more sense to hire one of them? what is the perk to hiring someone who is currently employed? i know several people who were laid off for no fault of their own, this is so cruel and seems entirely unecessary. is there some industry this practice is more common? sounds bizarre.

Aug. 01 2011 11:23 AM

Extremely good point by Sophie from Poughkeepsie.... She's nailed the route by which employers so discriminating could be prosecuted.

Aug. 01 2011 11:23 AM

Let's note that the right-wingers and Tea Partiers who oppose ALL government regulation as "Big Government" are committed to opposing any protections for unemployed job applicants.


1. If employers are going to limit themselves to the employed, then they are going to _raise_ their hiring costs. An employed person is going to look for a reason to change jobs -- better pay, higher benefits, etc. The unemployed are probably going to be more flexible on these issues.

2. The unemployed might just as easily be more motivated. They might have gone back to school to learn new skills.

After 9/11, _most_ of my clients closed in NYC. I used the time off to teach myself an entirely new set of skills and launch a new line of work. I did very well by virtue of being unemployed for over half a year.

Aug. 01 2011 11:22 AM
mike from Manhattan

Unfortunately, in this country de jure measures don't prevent de facto discrimination. I am a member of a protected class and in the two years since I was laid off I have been able to track who was hired for several jobs that I applied and interviewed for. In each case a person with less experience and no better credentials was hired instead. In other countries, including Germany, the most effective country in the West, The government oversees the hiring process to prevent the kind of abuses that are standard practice here.

Aug. 01 2011 11:22 AM
sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

Considering unemployment is higher in minority communities, you can see who will really be effected by this policy.

Aug. 01 2011 11:22 AM
TC from LI

What do you have to lose by applying anyway? Sure it wont feel good to never hear back, but I can see no consequence of still sending in a resume. Plus if you're unemployed there is no excuse for not bringing it in in person (assuming the job is local).

Aug. 01 2011 11:21 AM
JR from NYC

This is outrageous! Discriminatory and unfair.
I have a friend who's been out of work for 3 years and it's not because she hasn't been actively looking. What is she to do - give up altogether and become a destitute and homeless because she doesn't even have a chance of getting an interview????
This is unbelievable!

Aug. 01 2011 11:20 AM
Maria from Manhattan

What DISGUSTING behavior. Whoever those companies are, they should be named and shamed, so the rest of us can take our business elsewhere.

Aug. 01 2011 11:20 AM

If an employer is discriminating against blacks or women, it is easy to look at the actual list of employees to find evidence of the discrimination.

Seeking evidence of discrimination on the basis of employment status would be a good deal more difficult, but _would_ be possible through tax records (like W-9).

Send the employers to prison, let them remain unemployed behind bars, and see how they like it.

Aug. 01 2011 11:20 AM
Amy from Manhattan

In other recessions, things have gotten to the point where employers stopped seeing not having a job as a stigma, because unemployment was so high. Why is it going the other way this time?

And how does this affect freelancers? Are they seen as unemployed or as working?

Aug. 01 2011 11:19 AM
Bob from Pelham, NY

What about women who take time off for child-rearing? Isn't this just a disguised way to discriminate against them?

Aug. 01 2011 11:19 AM

So these companies only want those who are willing to jump ship with no sense of loyalty. I think that any company with this policy should br made public, so the American public can decide if we want to patronize such businesses.

Aug. 01 2011 11:18 AM
Chris from Manhattan

Yet another way our society is becoming a "winner-take-all" proposition that rewards those who are already ahead.

Aug. 01 2011 11:18 AM
Erin from Manhattan

Wouldn't the currently employed be more likely to negotiate higher salaries? Wouldn't this work against the company?

Aug. 01 2011 11:17 AM

Because of this deep recession, companies are downsizing at unprecedented levels, and people are being laid off for reasons totally unrelated to individual performance, through no fault of their own! Totally unfair!

Aug. 01 2011 11:17 AM

jgarbuz: I hope, for your sake, that you never have to learn what it is like to have your skilled job shipped overseas. Or that you never have to deal with a long illness. Please wake up and look around you.

Aug. 01 2011 11:17 AM
Siouxan from Bronx

This is another example of businesses not making any effort to boost the economy. If you keep people working - who were already working - you're not helping the economy (or unemployed) one single bit.

The new leprosy seems to be long term unemployment, and you can count me in as the afflicted.

Aug. 01 2011 11:16 AM
Susan from nyc

While this seems discriminatory on its face, I have never been interviewed for a job where I was not required to explain any gaps in my CV.

Aug. 01 2011 11:16 AM
Brian from Hoboken

I understand the rationale but it certainly is very disconcerting that corporate america thinks this is ok. What a shame.

Aug. 01 2011 11:16 AM
Nancy from Hoboken

This kind of thinking is also used in the dating world. That you are less valuable and suspect if you have been single and on the market for too long.

Aug. 01 2011 11:14 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Nothing illegal about it. Life is unfair. Losers need not apply :)

Aug. 01 2011 11:14 AM
Robert from NYC

THAT's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. It's NOT true.

Aug. 01 2011 11:13 AM
Robert from NYC

How about, "Maybe the people who have been out of work for a long time would be the best person to hire since s/he would be enthusiastic about getting back to work." So you test their skills, which is done anyway, to see if they are up-to-date!

Aug. 01 2011 11:12 AM
Ken from Little Neck

As someone who is currently employed but looking for something better, I find it disgusting. I have not personally seen this, but I would have a very hard time justifying responding to an add that is so obviously discriminatory.

Aug. 01 2011 11:12 AM
Joshua from NYC


Aug. 01 2011 10:42 AM
Tom from Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Doesn't that violate Equal Opportunity laws?

Is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission looking into this?

Aug. 01 2011 10:41 AM
David from Queens

This just adds to my belief that most companies use only the biggest nitwits in their organization to hire people.

Aug. 01 2011 10:25 AM
Anne from Brooklyn

WHY would employers only want currently employed applicants? What do they get out of not hiring unemployed people?

Aug. 01 2011 10:24 AM

In the world I inhabit, help wanted ads asking for employed people only to respond is blatantly and categorically UNFAIR and it's deeply insulting that you would even pose this question to your audience. Anyone who says it's fair to do so is an Ebernezer Scrooge.

Aug. 01 2011 09:44 AM

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