If You Don’t Have a Job, Don’t Apply Here!

What if you had been gainfully employed for many years, never been fired, never had any performance issues and all of a sudden you found yourself as a part of a RIF (reduction in force)? Upper management decided that a certain portion of the sales or management force had to be let go. What are the criteria? How are these decisions made?

In these economic times, we all know of many people, some of whom are ‘A’-players in our industry, that are suddenly out of a job. Trying to determine the true (read: public) reasons for lay-offs of certain people is virtually impossible.

Once the shock wears off, these newly-unemployed people must now start looking for a new job. We find that many of these with highly stable careers have to start at the beginning in creating résumés, filing for unemployment, and networking to try and find a good opportunity. Of course, for those with blatant performance or other problem issues, it will be a big uphill battle for them.

Let the searching begin! Online job boards, newspaper ads, employer career links or recruiter contacts are all the norm. However, a disturbing statement is creeping into some job descriptions: ‘Do not apply if you are unemployed’. The message here is that if you don’t already have a job, you are worthless to us; and that you must have done something wrong that caused you to be out of a job. Tell that to the guy who, after 20 years with the same company was told that his territory was now to be covered by another salesman who will now handle two regions. That fast, he is out on the streets.

So, because this person was successful, met or exceeded yearly goals and finally got to an economic situation that he had truly earned over his career, he is now deemed too expensive to keep. Unfortunately it is not unique and this happens all the time. The actual layoff was bad. Now how about being discriminated against because you don’t have a job through no fault of your own? That has to be the ultimate in humiliation. What we’re being shown is that these companies prefer job-hoppers who show no loyalty to the team they currently work with and are willing to leave for the next great gig. One can’t blame people who want to better themselves and their careers. However, tell that to the incredible amount of new candidates and their résumés that are stacked right here in a nice pile for which there are few good openings.

Some job postings have been leaked to the media that has the ‘no job-no apply’ moniker. These companies have quickly retracted these as being a ‘mistake’ or ‘in error’. Truth be told, in our industry (fortunately) few jobs that have been researched for this article contained the mandate. What may be surprising is that this is not illegal discrimination and is completely legal. The backlash comes in poor PR and future applicants or recruits that are leery of joining a company that would have that directive.

What is ludicrous is that managers have made alarming statements that companies ‘will not get rid of performers’. That was true just a few years back but the game has changed and anyone who still believes that is very short-sighted. This edict to only hire employed people does absolutely nothing to help our employment problems in this country. If companies only recycled the current workforce, it would be musical chairs and it would get to a point where good opportunities would only be offered to the few ‘golden people’ in their respective positions. The downfall that companies and those in the ivory towers don’t realize is that these ‘employed’ people usually cost more in wages, benefits, recruiting fees and maybe don’t have the years of job stability that we all look for; probably because every two to three years, they move on, costing tens of thousands of dollars in training, lost revenue, lost customers, and the bi-yearly cycle of trying to find a replacement and getting them up to speed in a short period of time.

There is a new government HIRE program which details that hiring unemployed people right now can save employers the 6.2% payroll tax. In addition, there are other portions of the program that can save thousands of dollars more until January 1, 2011. It isn’t perfect but it’s a start.

In our searches for our clients, there have been times when they really want to see a current employer on a résumé. But we have never been required to only find those already employed. Given the excellent talent out of work right now, we would find it unconscionable to accept any job searches with this mandate.

In taking a page from the persistent job-seekers out there who are hanging in there trying to find the right opportunity, I can’t help but think what will happen when the suits that made these orders find themselves out the door and are prevented from applying to great positions because they no longer have jobs themselves.

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