Employers often request a wide range of skills from job applicants. But in the midst of a troubled economy, in which more than 14 million people are unemployed, many companies are adding one extra qualification to that list: having a job.  At a time when there are far more applicants than there are openings, employers can be choosier, and they’re increasingly choosing to ignore applicants who have been out of work for 6 months or more. Many job listings specifically state that applicants “must be employed or recently employed.”

Many companies view the practice as an easy way to screen applications, and they assume that applicants with jobs are more in touch with the pulse of an industry. But 90 percent of Americans believe this practice is unfair. However, there’s no consensus on what to do about it. New Jersey recently passed a law forbidding such bans in job listings, but the practice is nearly impossible to monitor or to prove, and some say it puts an unnecessary burden on companies in the state.

Unfortunately, the practice also puts an unfair burden on minority groups and individuals over age 55, as both groups have been disproportionately affected by unemployment and on average remain unemployed for longer amounts of time. In addition, this policy can cause problems for those job-seekers who previously have served as long-term caregivers and stay-at-home parents, who seek an extra paycheck in a tough economy.

For many who are unemployed, their job status has little to do with their actual skill level and much more to do with the economy and businesses going under. Employers would do both themselves and the applicants a service by treating the unemployed as individuals, and reviewing resumes based on merit and experience, not current job status. By ignoring the unemployed, companies are not only hurting the applicants’ chance of finding work, but they are ignoring a large and talented pool of individuals eager to get back to work.

Comments

ed gleason | 7/28/2011 - 6:21pm
I think that the real problem is the biggest companies are sitting on 2 trillion in cash and not wanting to hire, expand, or innovate. Just keep the loot and look for cheap take-overs where they can then lay-off more workers to boost profits. Take overs and IPOs are accelerating.The American middle class that loves the Tea Party says ... Huh? When the big guys sell the companies they only pay 15% capital gains after taking enough deductions that the meager amount left makes their 15% even smaller. So let's end Medicare and cap SS, extend the retirement age to 68, and privatize SS for the next generation. Let's get the GOP Presidential candidates elected who want to end all capital gains, go zero, Then  the lives/families in the Hampton's, Greenwich, Scarsdale, Palo Alto and Malibu will really be nice. The good news is that the 2 trillion in cash 'they' are holding is in treasuries/bonds which will lose big time in default. Couldn't happen to better people.  
Brendan McGrath | 7/28/2011 - 4:25pm
One thing to add to my previous post - though it applies only obliquely, it was Pope John Paul II, I think, who said that "the first law of economics is the Word of God."
Brendan McGrath | 7/28/2011 - 4:24pm
This is sickening.  How on earth would an employer defend the practice of discriminating against those who are unemployed?  This is one of those things that makes you ask the Seinfeld question, "who ARE these PEOPLE?!!"  It's like how everyone complains about parents who yell at coaches, refs, etc. at their children's sports games - you wonder what would happen if said parents wound up in a conversation on the subject: would they start saying, "Oh, no, I disagree; I think it's perfectly defensible to behave that way at my child's sports game!  Here's why..."  Similarly, how would an employer defend a policy/practice like this without sounding heartless? 

We have to remember that when it comes to things like this, peope are making a CHOICE.  It's not, "Oh, I wish I could hire the unemployed, but that would mean taking people who are less qualified; I feel bad about it, but that's the way it is..."  No - you are choosing to do that; you are choosing to give some slight benefit to your company rather than to benefit someone less fortunate than yourself.