“Red-headed stepchildren” need not apply

Short-sighted. Unconscionable. Foolish. Profligate. Asinine. Ignorant. And I’m just getting started.

How ludicrous is it that some Employers are deciding that the Unemployed are not good enough to hire? CNN Money this week posted an article that says this is becoming more common. While it’s apparently not illegal, I’d have to call it immoral or at the very least ignorant.

Do hiring managers really think that everyone of the almost 11% unemployed is in that position for performance reasons? How far removed from reality are they? Do these hiring managers really believe that organizations suddenly (and all in the same 12-18 month period) decided to retain employees based on performance rather than tenure, politics or laziness? (It takes some doing, after all, to collect the documentation to get rid of someone even in “at-will” states.)

How audacious that hiring managers (and the HR people who clamor to be their strategic partners) so inanely surmise that the talent to fill an opening could only be found in someone who is already employed.

Business just doesn’t “get it”

It’s been obvious for some time that many organizations don’t really “get” that their assets and capital for success in this economy reside in their people…and that the people own that capital. Unlike the last half of the 20th century where the assets were equipment and buildings and bricks that stayed put, when people today leave an employer, they take their brains and energy and talent with them. The buildings and equipment that remain are only the shelter and the tools to support the brains (and heart!) that create customer loyalty. It’s the talent within a business that defines excellence and competitiveness in a global marketplace. Our Economy of Choice is driven by the people who do the work, create new products and offerings and serve and retain loyal customers.

But, apparently, some Employers believe that only the Employed can make this cut. I expect this reduces the number of resumes to review. It also assumes [and we all know what 'assume' means] that anyone currently employed is a top performer…because of course organizations only keep top performers…no room for “B” or “C” employees these days.

And a top performer would want to work for you WHY, Mr. No-unemployed-need-apply-here Hiring Manager? Because you aren’t talented enough yourself to know that talent isn’t defined by employment? Because you aren’t influenced by labels? Because you aren’t smart enough to know why the U.S. has an unemployment rate of almost 11%? Because you’re blissfully unaware that downsizing, as in ‘across-the-board-cuts’ is the quickest way to impact the hallowed bottom line? Yes, you need some talent in your organization, Mr. Hiring Manager, but the talented won’t tolerate your prejudices and ignorance for long. You’re making your own bed and eventually you’ll lie in it.

Where are the Human Resources people who are Strategic Partners?

If ever there was a time to draw a line in the sand, HR folks, this is it. Strategically, to look only for new hires in the ranks of the Employed is right up there with selecting a physician who will tell you what you want to hear. S/he may not be the physician who can diagnose you, but you aren’t looking for the best–you’re looking for one who fits your parameters.

Where is your backbone, your courage to do the right thing…as well as the smart thing? Your job as a “strategic partner” with other organization leaders is to prevent those leaders from shooting themselves in the foot and to educate them about the concept of human capital. If you haven’t stepped up before, now is certainly a good time.

And, don’t use the excuse that “we need to weed out resumes somehow.” That’s a really lame and lazy excuse, and sounds like an “employee” reason not a “partner” reason. Partners do things to the advantage of the organization, even if it’s difficult and takes time. You should be doing the same.

Where are the Recruiters who know better?

I expect the first response from Recruiters is “that’s what my client(s) want…they won’t talk with anyone who is Unemployed.” To that I say Bunk!

Where’s your courage, your backbone to do the right thing? How could you go along with an Employer who ignorantly or even indifferently believes that hiring only Employed people is a good talent-attraction strategy? Seems awfully similar to someone who only wants to hire blonds but not brunettes. Or only people with advanced degrees when a college degree isn’t really even necessary for the position. Comes down to power, doesn’t it? “Because we can.”

It’s sad to think that we have all become so enamored with comfort and security that we are no longer willing to do the right thing. We aren’t willing to speak up and question or to provide another perspective because somebody might get mad. It’s no wonder that the employment market is in such shambles. It’s a “buyers market” precisely because employees have given up their perspectives in exchange for the illusion of safety. As long as we’re safe, we’ll do as we’re programmed.

And the kicker? We’re as safe as the Emperor who wore no clothes was covered: we’re only kidding ourselves.

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6 Responses

  1. I think laziness is one major factor. Stupidity probably plays a part, too.

    Yes, statistically, people who have less education are more likely to be unemployed – but that doesn’t mean the person who applied does and how many seconds does it actually take you to look at a resume?!

    Statistically, people who have less up to date skills, e.g., are not computer proficient, are more likely to be unemployed, as are certain majors like English versus Engineering. Again, you can discern that from three seconds reading the person’s resume – duh!

    It’s like the old cliche about not being able to get a job because you have no job experience. Three times I have hired someone with no experience and always been glad I did. I decided to take a chance because I liked what I read on their resumes (yes, I actually read them!), I was impressed by the fact that they went around the HR department and came to me directly, which showed some initiative and resourcefulness, and they did have the education and skills I was looking for.

    This just sounds like another dumb corporate policy and I’ll bet even in those cases if someone wanted to hire you, he or she would find a way around it.

  2. I always put a high price on initiative and resourcefulness–glad you do, too!

  3. God forbid they hire an unemployed person with a depth and breadth of experience who might actually be capable of original thought. An outside perspective might just shine a little light on the narrow confines of thought inside these businesses. Corporate thinking in this country continues to narrow and the incestuous nature of it continues to weaken its gene pool. Natural selection has a way of taking care of weak genes – they become extinct.

  4. An interesting analogy, Marie…maybe fodder for another post! Thanks for your comments!

  5. It is unbelievable to me that any company could have such a small minded and short sighted philosophy. The silver lining? It creates entrepreneurs. Watch out, these entrepreneurs may even put the company that wouldn’t hire them out of business.

  6. Yep, hard to believe! It is the increasing numbers of small businesses that are creating the jobs in today’s economy. Thanks for commenting, Mia!

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