Lindsay Olson

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Only the Employed Need Apply


3555042995 585d089ace Only the Employed Need Apply

According to the Wall Street Journal, many employers in this economy think that the best candidates are those who are still employed and are "bypassing the jobless to target those still working, reasoning that these survivors are the top performers." See it

for yourself.

Bobby Fitzgerald, the restaurant owner quoted in this article, seems to think that restaurant servers and managers are only worthy of being hired if they have a current job. Even though he claims 'two dozen or more unsolicited résumés come in each day', he'd rather fly a candidate from Alabama to Phoenix to interview for a job based on the candidate's current employment status - employed.  He's also proud to flaunt his guerrilla recruiting tactics by sending his managers to poach talent from his local competition because he thinks that an employed worker brings more value to his restaurants.

Perhaps it's Mr. Fitzgerald's proud photo along with the negativity and his comments in the article that bother me so much. Millions of professionals are unemployed in the market due to the economic crisis, many at no fault of their own. We're so far past the point of equating the unemployed with damaged. This kind of short-sightedness in this marketplace makes my blood boil.

While it is common, especially during good economic times, to give preference to an employed candidate or to question the reasons behind a layoff, there are many other factors to consider before running off to the WSJ to tell the world about your company's silly hiring policies. Some of these story sources didn't even bother to think about how their comments may affect their reputation. Ticking off the community of unemployed readers and their friends and family members isn't the smartest way to drive business to your company or enhance your employer brand.

Companies don't always make cuts based on performance issues. Entire departments are being eliminated and other companies are going through three of four rounds of layoffs. Sometimes the business just can't sustain even the best performers. And even if the layoff had something to do with the person, such as a cultural or personality clash, it doesn't mean that the candidate couldn't be a top performer in the right environment.

Let's make it clear though. I'm not advocating that preference should be given to an unemployed candidate because he or she is out of a job. I just hope most employers can set aside their preconceived notions about unemployed applicants and evaluate potential prospects based on their relevant experience first, not their 2009 employment status.

Photo credit: Cycrolu

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9 Comments - Add yours!

Laurie Huff (July 1st, 2009)

Well said, Lindsay. The best comment in your post, I think — and the point over which I’ve agonized during my search — is your hope that employers “evaluate potential prospects based on their relevant experience first, not their 2009 employment status.” Looking for a good job in this economic climate is the hardest thing I’ve ever done!

Jennifer L. Wojcik (July 1st, 2009)

Hi Lindsay,

Fantastic stuff. I recently had a bout with an employer on this very issue. They somehow felt that those who were laid off were somehow “damaged goods”.

That mindset is sickening, really. I recruit mainly engineering talent in Austin, TX where the technology sector has been hit hard. I receive resumes every day from amazingly talented individuals whose companies have shuttered their offices due to the economic situation. These are not folks who drift from job to job, nor are they marginal engineers. They were simply in a bad place at the worst time.

I appreciate this post as it mirrors my feelings on the issue completely.

Bobby Fitzgerald (July 2nd, 2009)

This statement is in response to the article in the Wall Street Journal about hiring and unemployment.

This article contained a headline that was offensive and misleading to Bobby Fitzgerald and our 4oo employees. We would like to clarify some points that were made in the interview but did not appear in the story. First, we did not contribute to, nor do we approve of the headline. Our company accepts all applications. Second, we clearly stated to The Wall Street Journal that, of the 50 positions available at the time of the May 6, 2009 interview, 45 were hourly positions such as servers and cooks. These positions do not require a recruiter and we use traditional recruiting methods to fill them. Those methods include newspaper ads and Craigslist, both of which primarily reach unemployed persons. The recruiting effort for the five salaried positions was a two-pronged approach. First, we recruit through placement ads on Monster, HCareers and similar sites, which also primarily reach unemployed individuals. Second, we use recruiters to bring us candidates who may already be employed. Two of these five positions have been filled by individuals who were unemployed and we are still interviewing for the final three.

Finally, we only pay a fee to recruiters to bring us currently employed candidates because we actively recruit the unemployed on Monster and other large recruiting channels ourselves. Please accept Bobby Fitzgerald’s sincere apology to all of the great people in our company and all of those who were offended by inaccurate statements attributed to our company by this article. We understand that The Wall Street Journal is issuing a correction and we hope the correction reflects these facts.

Charles (July 2nd, 2009)

I have been hearing this kind of nonsense from recruiters for decades – nothing new, lazy and ignorant is as lazy and ignorant does.

Then this is in response to Bobby’s commnet above – spin, spin, spin all you want. You said things that you now realize show you as ignorant. Apology not accepted.

Jim Hulton (July 3rd, 2009)

There are many of us highly qualified professionals out there seeking opportunities in this dismal exonomy. It is a cold blooded and idiotic person who thinks that the best candidates are still employed. That is absolute hogwash!

I am a top notch communicator with maturity and experience that can be put to use for many kinds of employers. It is we who are in transition that are the strongest because we have endured hardships and are ready to stand the test of time by once again applying our skills and talents in the marketplace.

Miriam Salpeter, Keppie Careers (July 5th, 2009)

I’ve been keeping an eye on this tendency as well. It’s an unfortunate fact that it is often easier to find a job when you have a job, but I’ve been hoping that the current economy and “boat” of unemployment that so many people find themselves in would have made it more difficult to discriminate against unemployed people.

I see the subject of the WSJ story has commented that the company was inaccurately portrayed. However, their’s is not the only company or organization hoping to woo talent currently employed elsewhere, even when there is likely a very qualified candidate seeking the job.

This is one of the reasons that I advise my clients NOT to advertise themselves as jobseekers – no sense in flaunting a characteristic that may invite discrimination, even when it is subtle.

Jessica (July 10th, 2009)

It is really nice to read someone standing up for the value of the laid-off. A family member was laid-off 9 months ago in Silicon Valley, and it has been really rough to the whole family hearing how some people talk about the unemployed. Thank you.

Accu-butter (July 13th, 2009)

You seem to be missing the forest for the trees or at least complaining about a few trees’ bark… or something: Some of the people with the worst morals and ethics in history have held some of the highest positions in government.
So do you think employers are going to act any better?
So of course you’re going to get employers doing things that make your blood boil.
The beauty is that arms races between employees and employer can occur in just such circumstances.
Besides, people don’t just disappear when they become unemployed. They still exist within the community– the community that includes the employer.
Hint hint.

Lindsay (July 14th, 2009)

@ Accu-butter (could we use a name next time, please?) I’m not really sure what point you are trying to argue here. Maybe you could clarify?

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