Haven’t had a job for over a year, and you’re worried about how to take care of your family?
Not our problem, say some employers. If you haven’t found a job, that must mean you’re not a very good worker, so we don’t want you.
A recent article in the New York Times said that Monster.com and other job boards are listing jobs that tell people who haven’t had a job in six months or more don’t need to bother to apply.
The New York Times’ Catherine Rampell said she found preferences for the already employed or only recently laid off in listings for “hotel concierges, restaurant managers, teachers, I.T. specialists, business analysts, sales directors, account executives, orthopedics device salesmen, auditors and air-conditioning technicians.”
While it may not be against the law specifically to discriminate against unemployed people, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is looking into whether some minority groups are being discriminated against, since their populations are overrepresented in the unemployed ranks, including African-Americans and older workers.
Unfortunately, many employers — safely nestled away in their cubicles — are heartlessly breathing “there but the grace of God” every time they get another résumé from a casualty of the crappy economy and poor job market.
There are so many places this post can go, I don’t even know where to begin.
- I will boycott any business that expressly discriminates against the long-term unemployed, and will encourage others to do the same. The University of Phoenix had similar requirements on their job listings, but pulled them down after the Times called with some questions. Hopefully this means they amended their practice, rather than just removed evidence.
- Small businesses that are hiring should look harder at the pool of the long-term unemployed. You could truly make a difference in someone else’s life.
- If you’re unemployed and have the kind of job you could run as a solo effort, start your own company. If you’re a former marketing agency account exec, start an agency, and hire creative freelancers to fill tasks. If you’re a former IT worker, now you’re an IT consultant. If you’re a sales director, become a marketing rep for several lines. You can put this on your résumé, even if you don’t make a lot of money from it.
- If an employer ever says you have been unemployed too long, immediately contact the EEOC office in your area and file an official complaint. It may not do much for you, but if you fall within a protected group of people, they’ve got your complaint on file.
- On the job boards, you’re competing against hundreds of other potential candidates for a single job. Plus, the companies that hire on Monster and other job boards don’t always have the jobs that people truly want, or that can easily be filled. Some jobs go unfilled for a long time for a reason. It must mean it’s not a very good job, so no one wants it. Take a long hard look at companies that have had the same jobs available for more than a month.
- Most importantly, stop applying for jobs on job boards altogether. If you want a real job, network with people on LinkedIn and Twitter. You’re not going to get it by perusing the online version of the newspaper Help Wanted ads. See if you can bypass the HR department and connect directly with the hiring managers through the social networks.
If you’re having a tough time finding a job, start your own business. It may not be a raging success, it may not even get you enough money to replace your lost salary. But it’s something you can put on your resume when you’re applying for your next job. This way, you won’t look unemployed.
The short of it is if you’re discriminating against people who haven’t been able to take care of their families, shame on you. I hope your poor attitude is visited back on you. And if you’re looking for a job, make your own. Start your own business. Quit checking the job boards. Spend that time networking with real people instead. If you’ve been unemployed for a while, you don’t have anything to lose by starting your own business, and may get some extra benefit out of it.
At the risk of tooting my own horn, my book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is a good resource for people who want to use social media to network to their next job or big engagement..
Photo Credit: Kheel Center, Cornell University (Flickr)