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)
Erik thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I completely agree with you. It is utter nonsense to think some employers would have that callous an attitude. But you know….it is those SAME EMPLOYERS that outsource to foreign countries to get cheap labor, use foreign call centers that could give a damned about American customers, hire college grads as “salaried employees” and force them to work 50 hour weeks, lay folks off during the fourth quarter just to get their executive bonuses, and only hire contract personnel to do their work. Personally when any company sends me a job posting for contract work, I tell them I DONT DO CONTRACT WORK.
I know business needs to have freedom but how long can corporations expect to screw Americans out of jobs and economic security before it impacts our ability to buy their products!
Don’t give up. I’ll admit, your situation sounds kind of tough, but I’m the optimistic type who believes that some of the most amazing opportunities are ready to happen for anyone, especially if they put themselves in the right place at the right time for those opportunities to pop up.
It may be that you have to create your own job and your own business, and find a way to fill a niche and make money off it, rather than finding a job where you work for someone else. Maybe it’s writing an ebook for dealing with Aspergers for young parents. Maybe that ebook is one that you write and sell through Amazon.com and make some decent money. Maybe you can launch a speaking career that focuses on people with Aspergers, and teach people how to live with it and deal with it.
Who knows?! It could be anything that you already know, and just need to find out how to put that knowledge to work for you. But rather than waiting around for someone to hire you, my point is to create your own opportunities.
There’s not much hope for me then; I’m 49 years old, have Asperger’s syndrome and am still looking for my first job.
Eliminating the majority of candidates for your job opening is probably not the way to hire the best person. It does make the number of candidates more manageable for lazy HR managers.
Nicely said, Erik. I am recently unemployed and have had some concern about my future because what I do is a commodity. My expertise is graphic design and photography and although I’m damn good at both, so are so many others. I am competing with equally talented individuals…and younger individuals…and, yes, age is my concern.
I appreciate what both you and Paul said about self employment. I am discovering that my creative talents are such that I can maintain some semblance of an employment history because I am still working as a designer and photographer. It doesn’t pay as well right now but as I get more involved with LinkedIn and Twitter I foresee a rather comfortable future. Networking, whether through traditional methods or through the emerging social media outlets, is really what our current employment environment is all about and the more engaged one becomes with social networking, the better their financial future.
Thanks for the post.
The reality is our new economy is about “Self Employment”.
If you are looking for a full time job, you will find that the “unpublished” job market is greater and better than the “published” job market.
The only way you can access the “unpublished” market is through networking. To do so, requires some work on the part of the person looking for work.
1. What do you want to do?
2. What is your value?
3. Talk to people about it and build a network. (But, isn’t that sales? Yes, precisely. As a good friend taught me, we are all salespeople from day one in our lives. How did you get your parents to buy that toy for you? You sold them)
It requires some discipline, patience and a great attitude, but it works.
My old high school buddy was on the bench for a year. He was an engineer. He took a job in a different industry. While talking to his neighbor who was taking classes at the local college, the instructor informed the class that it is hard to find the type of engineer he was. He followed up on the lead and got the job.
The job was unpublished! And sometimes jobs are just an idea of what a person needs. You will never know, if you don’t get out network and talk to people.