The Unemployed Need Not Apply?

The Huffington Post has an interesting piece today about help wanted ads that specifically state that those who are unemployed need not apply because they will not be considered.  It’s one of those weird stories that make you shake your head and think for a while.

The one employer quoted in the piece explains that the rationale for their policy is to avoid unnecessary work by their HR people.  They want people who are happy in their current jobs who might be lured away; they don’t want to be bombarded with a bunch of resumes from unemployed people who probably aren’t qualified but who are desperately hoping they might get lucky.  A spokesperson for the National Employment Law Project, on the other hand, says that employers who try to exclude applications from the unemployed are bad corporate citizens who are falling prey to “sad and despicable” propaganda.

As the article points out, it is not illegal for employers to discriminate against the currently unemployed in their hiring decisions.  And I suppose you could give the employers in question credit for being honest about their preferences.  Wouldn’t an applicant rather know of an ironclad policy that will eliminate any chance that they might get a job, rather than spend the time, money, and emotional capital involved in applying for the job?  If the policy exists and will be enforced, amending a want ad to cut any reference to that policy seems to be a pointless exercise in exalting form over substance.

The reality, though, is that virtually everyone has been unemployed at some point in their working lives, and that many unemployed people have lost their jobs for larger economic reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of their work.  Whether a person currently holds a job clearly not an accurate proxy for the qualities that make a good employee.  Ultimately, employers who flatly refuse to hire the unemployed will just be hurting themselves — and maybe they will come to realize that fact.

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