Discrimination, or Logical?


Is there another choice?

My friend Lisa posted a great article on the HR Hardball™ discussion thread; Arthur Delaney of the Huffington Post writes that the unemployed population faces an unspoken bias bordering on discrimination in the job market. The basis of the article is the overt and/or unconscious “weeding out” of unemployed candidates during the screening process.

I have to admit, I’m somewhat torn on this topic – human behavior would dictate that we assume (the “a word”) an employed person is more employable than an unemployed person. To illustrate this, Delaney cites a UCLA study that shows the unemployment “stigma” starts as soon as the former job ends. Whatever the reason – voluntary, involuntary, laid-off…..doesn’t matter. When you’re unemployed, you become damaged goods. President Obama actually considered banning posted job listings with “must be currently employed” as a requirement. Somehow that seems perilously close to classifying “unemployed” as a protected class – could you imagine?

I empathize with job-seekers ~ I would like to think we’ve all been through the process, but we have short memories when we’re back in the employed ranks. For the job candidate, it’s a gut-wrenching process and it’s very easy to be lost in the transactional nature of the hiring process, especially if you don’t have a current paycheck.

But…I also empathize with the professional recruiter – having served the function myself, lo those many years ago; the job is a never ending grind with one outstanding feature; resumes NEVER stop coming. You fill the job, another one opens, and with each new job, thousands of resumes follow. Arbitrary requirements are sometimes formally or informally applied, i.e. GPA (ridiculous), number of jobs, or current employment status. Anything to make the pile smaller. Machiavelli would be a recruiter.

So it’s not an illegal process, but is it overly biased and unfair? More importantly, is it accurate?I’m curious what you think.

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder and OH (Original Hardballer); like this post? Try this one, this one, or even this one….go ahead, don’t be a weenie.


Talent Acquisition Executive, team-builder, and full-time dreamweaver. Creative Director, Content Designer, Writer, Speaker, Entrepreneur, terrible golfer, lover of The Art of War & Texas Hold 'Em.

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  • August 2, 2012, 10:44 am

    This topic is no win – of course the answer is “depends” – plus HR folks will never admit to doing this, which they do – everyday.

    Media types like to scream “discrimination” – but let’s face it, no one good is still unemployed 3 years after the recession – only someone who is lazy. If I lost my job and couldn’t find one after 2-3 months – I would be doing something – delivery pizzas, flipping burgers, digging ditches. “Oh but wait – you would be “Under-employed”! Really because I can’t find a job in my “chosen” career – somehow that doesn’t count!? What if I’ve chosen to be a head NBA coach? That’s a ridiculous argument – either your employed or your not – sure you might not be able to afford your BMW and 3000 sq. ft. house – but those are also personal choices.