Just My Opinion: Should Companies Not Hire The Unemployed?

"Have you seen the article that highlights why human resources is skipping over unemployed job applicants in favor of employed job applicants?" "Is this really what HR people are doing?" This was the question posed to me by a very talented, extremely professional, yet unemployed colleague.

"Is this really what HR people are doing?"

I had not read the article before the question was posed to me.

The article, "Out Of Work Job Applicants Told Unemployed Need Not Apply" is all the buzz for those who have seen it in HR circles. It was even shared in an HR group that I'm a member of on Linked In.

I read the article. It describes how companies are posting job listings with the caveat that the unemployed "need not apply" and that this sentiment is growing more popular among recruiters.

As an HR professional and as someone who has recruited, assessed, interviewed and hired, 100′s of employees, the article really touched a nerve. It made me step back and take a look at my hiring practices. Do I have a bias against the unemployed?

I'd like to think that I've assessed every qualified job applicant fairly, but wouldn't we all like to think this way? What if I, or the hiring managers I've supported have held some type of conscious or subconscious bias and what factors are driving the bias? The article provoked some soul searching on my part.

A lively discussion from HR professionals ensued on Linked In. It seems that the majority of commentators felt that this bias does not exist or that it is extremely rare.

I too joined the conversation on Linked In:

"Unfortunately, so many companies use budget cuts as an excuse to lay off their underperforming workers instead of laying off workers based on the job that they perform and how that role impacts the business.

It has become easier for some not to manage and choose to layoff underperforming workers rather than dealing with performance management.

With these types of practices, it's not surprising that you have situations where HR and hiring managers alike are becoming distrustful of the candidate pool.

We as HR practitioners should continue to conduct thorough interviews and thoroughly check references for all potential candidates. We should be using our networks to learn as much as we can about candidates that we are considering and not pre-judge candidates before we have done our homework. And, we should be making sure that we are managing our underperforming employees with the goal of improving performance and behavior within our organizations instead of ignoring issues and taking the easy way out when it's time to eliminate staff.

There are a lot of really good people out there who are unemployed and we are doing them a disservice if we are writing them off even though they are qualified on paper for job opportunities.

Even poor performers deserve a second chance as sometimes it's a situation of job fit, or conflicting styles between the supervisor and the employee that results in an employee being labeled a poor performer.

I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir in most cases, but I feel strongly that we need to take the reigns as HR professionals and do the right thing for our job candidates."

This is essentially my response to my very talented, yet unemployed colleague.

Just my opinion.


Dianne Shaddock is the Founder of Easy Small Business HR.com, a website which provides “Quick and Simple Human Resources Strategies for Small Businesses, Non Profits, and Entrepreneurs. Go to EasySmallBusinessHR.com for more tips on how to hire and manage your staff more effectively. Easy Small Business HR, Your Personal HR Consultant!

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