Unemployed need not apply. As strange as those four words might look, not to mention how contradictory they might seem to be, according to CNN Money, they are becoming increasingly common in jobs listings and help wanted ads. As Congress debates the relative merits of unemployment benefits extensions and hundreds of thousands lose those same unemployment benefits weekly, the number of unemployed, those searching for jobs, and those without income increases, adding their names to the unemployed that in many instances will not be hired. Worse, they need not apply at many job openings. Worse still, knowledge that some businesses are bold enough to post such a requirement of eligibility so openly leads to the leap in logic that there are many more that aren’t being as open and who discriminate against the unemployed on a far more subtler level.
The unemployed, it would seem, need not bother to consider applying…
“I think it is more prevalent than it used to be,” Rich Thompson, vice president of learning and performance at the world’s largest staffing firm, Adecco Group North America, to CNN Money, “I don’t have hard numbers, but three out of the last four conversations I’ve had about openings, this requirement was brought up.”
It may seem as discriminatory as “Blacks Need Not Apply” or “Women Need Not Apply” or “Irish Need Not Apply” — and it is, but in a more general and less inflammatory sense — but it is commonly used, blatantly printed in online and newsprint ads and classified sections. Instead of discriminating via age, gender, race, or ethnicity, businesses discriminate on whether or not you’re currently employed. CNN reports that occasionally the lister will remove the ad if questioned by the media but that does not stop the practice. Most refuse to comment about the ads. Sony Ericsson, who ran such an ad when hiring to staff a new Georgia facility, removed the ad and told CNN that the ad had been a mistake.
Mistake or not, the ads are indeed becoming more prevalent. The People Place , an Orlando-based recruiting company that posted the ad for Sony Ericsson. UPI and WXIA-TV reported that the ad read, “No unemployed candidates will be considered at all.” When asked about the ad, The People Place would not comment on the posting itself, but a spokesperson, Howard Lawson, told UPI that there was a “growing trend” among companies to hire only the currently employed.
And even where companies are more tactful or considerate, the practice of not hiring the unemployed has become institutionalized. Recruiters and human resources departments are relegating the unemployed to a permanent jobless status by not considering them for a job opening simply based on the applicant’s jobless state at the point of hiring.
And although it is discrimination, it isn’t against the law.
The practice contributes to the jobless rate that the U. S. Department of Labor places at 9.7% of the workforce (although some estimate that the number is closer to 22%). The estimate is that 15 million Americans are unemployed, most due to no fault of their own. Many have exhausted their benefits, their life’s savings, taken part-time and lesser paying jobs to help make ends meet. And even if the Senate were to pass the bill containing the unemployment benefits extension, a large number of the unemployed would not qualify. As the jobless find their income options becoming increasingly limited, such as those hoping for Congress to pass the 2010 Unemployment Extension Bill, they also see that job openings are being filled by passive job seekers, the term recruiting companies use to label those already employed looking for a job. The jobless are being actively marginalized by the job market itself.
Judy Conti of the National Employment Law Project (NELP) notes that excluding the unemployed when trying to fill job openings is not a beneficial one. She said, “Making that kind of automatic cut is senseless; you could be missing out on the best person of all. There are millions of people who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If an employer feels that the best qualified are the ones already working, they have no appreciation of the crisis we’re in right now.”
There are several reasons that companies operate in this fashion. There is the “myth” of the unemployed worker who is unemployed due to poor work performance (which does not take into consideration the employee that has been laid off or severed due to company bankruptcies, downsizings, mergers, or cut-backs). There is the “more current” myth that those already in a work position are more up-to-date on technology, methods, and general knowledge of the position (which does not take into consideration that an unemployed person might be keep up with current trends and methods in their chosen profession). There is also the budgetary reason, such as hiring the job seeker looking for a minimal raise because the unemployed that qualify will demand larger salaries, usually commensurate with the salaries they had before they became unemployed (which does not consider that an unemployed individual might take a pay cut to become gainfully employed once more). And there is the recruiting short-cut of simply tossing the applications (or announcing that the “unemployed need not apply”) of the unemployed, especially in the instances where there are a large number of applicants for a limited number of job openings, to make the recruiting job simpler, less difficult, and more expedient.
For the millions of unemployed attempting to find a job, the business practice of not hiring the jobless may only reinforce what they had already suspected. Not being able to find a job leads to its own special mental state of paranoia and seeming besiegement by forces beyond one’s control. Regardless, the news cannot be anything but discouraging. For those hopeful that the Senate might pass the 2010 Unemployment Extension bill to provide some of the unemployed with a measure of relief, there can be no comfort in knowing that an agreement among lawmakers may be their only source of income for quite some time. If they pass the bill…
And as the number of unemployed remains in the tens of millions and more and more companies shut down in the current stagnant economy, competition for job openings will likely increase — as will the number of the unemployed.
Many of the unemployed, who found themselves in that state due to no fault of their own, are finding that they are remaining in a jobless state through no fault of their own. It is a number that, in accordance with the “growing trend” to openly and secretly discriminate against the unemployed, may not see much of a decrease for some time.
WXIA-TV via UPI.com