Catch 22 for US unemployed

Don’t bother applying for a job if you are unemployed seems to be the message in America right now.

When US unemployment is rising (to 9.2%) and job creation really low (only 18,000 new jobs in June) this is bad news for job seekers.

I first came across this on a Linkedin career group discussion a few weeks ago asking if it was ethical and thought it was just an idea some recruiter had come up with but it appears to be widespread according to Alexandra Frean’s “American Notebook” piece in the Times yesterday.

It seems New Jersey and a couple of other states have either outlawed the ban, on the unemployed applying for jobs, or are considering doing so and national legislation may follow.

Basically recruiters and employers are screening out anyone who is unemployed, or has been so for more than 6 months – when the average time out of employment is now 9 months. Job sites carry notices saying “unemployed candidates will not be considered” or “must be currently employed”. 

You might argue that there is some logic in it if employers believe that the long-term unemployed have lost their killer instinct or are have lost their jobs through incompetence but it is neither fair nor good for the economy to disbar experienced and qualified candidates in this manner.

At one time it was common for blue-collar workers to be laid off and no-one thought it was their fault but if you were a white-collar or professional and were made redundant it was a bit of a stigma. But those days are long gone with all the recessions and cutbacks over the last 40 years.

And it smacks of laziness amongst recruiters. Recruitment consultants already have a bad reputation for being purely sales and commission-oriented wanting to place people as quickly as possible. Judging people arbitrarily rather than interviewing and assessing them properly to assess their competence and motivation is cheaper but hardly speaks well of this so-called profession.

And employers are also to blame because far too many have too few people properly trained to interview and assess effectively and fairly. And US managers are supposed to be the best in the world!


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