Still waiting for a response to the 300 resumés you sent out last month? Bad news: Some companies are ignoring all unemployed applicants.
In a current job posting on The People Place, a job recruiting website for the telecommunications, aerospace/defense and engineering industries, an anonymous electronics company in Angleton, Texas, advertises for a “Quality Engineer.” Qualifications for the job are the usual: computer skills, oral and written communication skills, light to moderate lifting. But red print at the bottom of the ad says, “Client will not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason.”
In a nearly identical job posting for the same position on the Benchmark Electronics website, the red print is missing. But a human resources representative for the company confirmed to HuffPost that the The People Place ad accurately reflects the company’s recruitment policies.
“It’s our preference that they currently be employed,” he said. “We typically go after people that are happy where they are and then tell them about the opportunities here. We do get a lot of applications blindly from people who are currently unemployed — with the economy being what it is, we’ve had a lot of people contact us that don’t have the skill sets we want, so we try to minimize the amount of time we spent on that and try to rifle-shoot the folks we’re interested in.”
There are about 5.5 people looking for work for every job available, according to the latest data from the Labor Department.
Sony Ericsson, a global phone manufacturer that recently announced that it would be bringing 180 new jobs to the Buckhead, Ga. area, also recently posted an ad for a marketing position on The People Place. The add specified: “NO UNEMPLOYED CANDIDATES WILL BE CONSIDERED AT ALL.” When asked about the ad, a spokeswoman said, “This was a mistake, and once it was noticed it was removed.”
Ads asking the unemployed not to apply are easy to find. A Craigslist ad for assistant restaurant managers in Edgewater, N.J. specifies, “Must be currently employed.” Another job posting for a tax manager at an unnamed “top 25 CPA firm” in New York City contains the same line in all caps.
A company’s choice to ignore unemployed applicants and recycle the current workforce ignores the effect of the recession on millions of highly-qualified workers and could prolong the unemployment crisis, said Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project.
“In the current economy, where millions of people have lost their jobs through absolutely no fault of their own, I find it beyond unconscionable that any employer would not consider unemployed workers for current job openings,” she said. “Not only are these employers short-sighted in their search for the best qualified workers, but they are clearly not good corporate citizens of the communities in which they work. Increasingly, politicians and policy makers are trying to blame the unemployed for their condition, and to see this shameful propaganda trickle down to hiring decisions is truly sad and despicable.”
There is no law prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed, though advocates said the practice could be illegal if it had a “disparate impact” on minority groups.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) prohibit the use of discriminatory employment tests and selection procedures.
There has been an increase in employment testing due in part to post 9-11 security concerns as well as concerns about workplace violence, safety, and liability. In addition, the large-scale adoption of online job applications has motivated employers to seek efficient ways to screen large numbers of online applicants in a non-subjective way.
The number of discrimination charges raising issues of employment testing, and exclusions based on criminal background checks, credit reports, and other selection procedures, reached a high point in FY 2007 at 304 charges.
Many employers use employment tests and other selection procedures in making employment decisions. Examples of these tools, many of which can be administered online, include the following:
- Cognitive tests assess reasoning, memory, perceptual speed and accuracy, and skills in arithmetic and reading comprehension, as well as knowledge of a particular function or job;
- Physical ability tests measure the physical ability to perform a particular task or the strength of specific muscle groups, as well as strength and stamina in general;
- Sample job tasks (e.g., performance tests, simulations, work samples, and realistic job previews) assess performance and aptitude on particular tasks;
- Medical inquiries and physical examinations, including psychological tests, assess physical or mental health;
- Personality tests and integrity tests assess the degree to which a person has certain traits or dispositions (e.g., dependability, cooperativeness, safety) or aim to predict the likelihood that a person will engage in certain conduct (e.g., theft, absenteeism);
- Criminal background checks provide information on arrest and conviction history;
- Credit checks provide information on credit and financial history;
- Performance appraisals reflect a supervisor’s assessment of an individual’s performance; and
- English proficiency tests determine English fluency.