Smart CEOs are Hiring the Unemployed (or at least they should be )

January 17th, 2011 by jwjobblogwp Leave a reply »

Hey CEO’s!  If I could save you time, money, and attrition at your company, organization or business would you listen to me?

If I could show you how to increase your profits, orders, donations, services to your customers would it be worth your time?

Well, listen up.

For anyone who has been out of work for an extended period of time, last Friday’s Huffington Post article, How Employers Weed Out Unemployed Job Applicants, Others, Behind The Scenes isn’t news.

Anyone who has been looking for a while has hit up against the bias of employers passing them over in favor of people currently working.  Recruiters and HR staff cite that they are getting their marching orders from the top because people who are unemployed are perceived as not being up to speed, not current or just lazy and unqualified.

To tell you the truth, in a weird way I admire the folks who actually admit their bias.  As someone seeking work, it is far better to know where not to waste my time, than to try to uncover whether or not an employer is weeding out candidates based on unemployment status.

Smart CEO’s have done their homework and know such practices are neither immoral nor illegal.  But what you may not know, CEOs, is what you are doing is bad business.  Oh, people who are unemployed may argue that it’s unfair or not right; but we all know what’s driving the decision.  It’s the bottom line.  Money talks.

Okay, I’m going look at this from your big chair at the head of the board table.

And, for those of you playing along at home who are unemployed, you should listen, too.

Profit is driving decisions today;  or at the very least, there is a need to grow and support a non-profit,  to provide funding and grants to educational institutions, or supply a tax base for government services to keep organizations viable.  Everyone needs to know the dollars they spend today will return to keep their company or organization in the black, not put them in the red.

We all can agree on that point, right?  No big news here.  But how do you do it?  The economy is recovering… slowly.  How can you speed up the process, how can you make gains this quarter and the next?

Hey, are you still with me?  I’m going to let you in on a secret.

If you want the economy to recover faster, if you want to add money to your budget rather than slash it, want investment in your business, want consumers to buy your products, want people to donate to your cause HIRE SOMEONE WHO IS UNEMPLOYED.

I wrote about this in December – granted you were probably busy with end of year closings, trying to figure out if you could give your remaining employees some type of holiday bonus, or just caught up in all the festivities that occur between Thanksgiving and New Years – so in case you missed it, I’ll give you the gist of of what I said.

Not hiring someone because they are unemployed — regardless of your position on the subject — is bad business.

As an employer you may complain you aren’t getting orders for your goods, your staff budgets are cut, you’re being made to do more with less because the economic recovery is too slow.  Well, you may not like it, but those things you are complaining about? — you’re perpetuating them.

Here’s how you can fix your business, and the economy – HIRE SOMEONE WHO IS UNEMPLOYED.

Hiring someone who is unemployed is like watching the dominoes fall.

When an unemployed person gets a job they stop collecting unemployment — paid for by tax dollars — and start contributing to the tax base.

When an unemployed person gets a job they can pay their bills so they don’t amass debt and end up filing for bankruptcy leaving their lenders high and dry.

When an unemployed person gets a job mortgages are paid on time and foreclosure is avoided.  This not only means banks don’t have to be bailed out, it reduces the devaluation of everyone else’s homes.

When an unemployed person gets a job they spend money.  They pay for goods, services and contribute to charitable causes.  They become consumers and stimulate the economy.

When an unemployed person gets a job they stop draining their 401ks and IRAs.  They start saving and investing.  They contribute to retirement plans and college funds which translates into investment in stocks and bonds and mutual funds.  The market gains, and city, state and federal government bonds fund infrastructure projects and create jobs.

The talent pool of unemployed people out there is vast.  Take advantage of it.  These are people with training, skills and experience.  They’re chomping at the bit to work — and currently there’s a fire sale.

Where I am here in North Carolina many unemployed are not only college educated professionals, but have advanced degrees as well.  These people are tech savvy and ramp up quickly.

Oh, I hear you protest — “they’ll just leave when the economy gets better”, “they’re not going to stick around for the long term”, “they’re just waiting for a better job”.

Well, here’s a reality check.

The economy isn’t getting better any time fast unless people get jobs and start working.

As to looking for long term employees, look at the average time the people who are unemployed have worked for their previous employers — now look at that candidate of yours who is already employed.  Who has a better record of long term employment and loyalty?  Besides, if that candidate you are looking at is willing to jump ship to work for you, who is to say they aren’t going to be willing to leave you in the dust for the next passing ship.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The length of time a worker remains with the same employer increases with the age at which the worker began the job.  Of the jobs that workers began when they were 18 to 22 years of age, 72% of those jobs ended in less than a year and 94% ended in fewer than 5 years.  Among jobs started by 39- to 44-year-olds, 33% ended in less than a year and 68% ended in fewer than 5 years.”

Hey, that’s a recommendation for older workers as well!

And regarding waiting for a better job?  A recent survey by Right Management showed that a whopping 84% of workers are planning on seeking new employment in 2011.  So that excuse isn’t going to fly.

People who are employed are less willing to bear the burden of covering two people’s jobs.  Employees are burnt out, stressed out and just plain tired of doing more with less for the last 3 years.  A recent article on Beyond Morale, a blog on employee engagement, underscores that those people who have been left behind to do the job of two people (or more) on their single salary are disgruntled and less loyal.

On the other hand, I’m pretty sure a newly employed, former long-term unemployed worker would be hungry, thankful and happy for meaningful work.  After all, they’ve dealt with trying to make ends meet on a fraction of what they previously earned.  They’ve already lived with the stigma and other negative attributes associated with unemployment — and they aren’t looking to return there any time soon.

Hey, CEOs are you still there?  Do you still think it’s smart passing over the person who is unemployed to fill your vacant position?  You have an opportunity; will you take advantage of it?  You have the ability to do the one thing an unemployed person can’t do for themselves – HIRE SOMEONE WHO IS UNEMPLOYED.

Not hiring someone because they are unemployed is bad business.  But luckily, you can fix that.



  1. Ed Han says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for breaking it down so thoroughly. Something here smacks of the NIMBY problem, I think.

  2. As one of the underemployed and occasionally unemployed (I’ve been doing temp and contract work to get by while looking for a permanent position), let me add another reason.

    I can start right now.

    I’m well rested (a little restless, actually) and eager to get back to work. I don’t need to give notice and my boss isn’t going to try to talk me into three weeks instead of two. I can start tomorrow. Heck, if it’s early in the day, give me an hour to stop at the ATM, grab a quick lunch, call Dad, text a couple of friends… I can be filling out the paperwork and getting down to work today.

    Perhaps when the unemployment rate is below 5% it is reasonable to assume that those who are not working are not qualified. But in the current market there are a lot of extremely good people who are available–that would be the additional 5% who are unemployed and the many who are underemployed. And we’re ready to start right now!

  3. HRMargo Rose says:

    This topic is near and dear to my heart. When the report was leaked on Huffington Post, I was aghast, as were many of my colleagues in both recruiting, and human resources.

    It is counter intuitive to not hire unemployed people. The sad truth is that “some” not all employers want to hire an employed candidate from their competition. “Some,” not all recruiters only want to recruit active candidates. I don’t agree with this. In fact, I think it is short-sighted.

    With the onset of the recession in 2009, many companies folded, entire departments were decimated, and many good professionals lost their jobs. The poor economy made it difficult for candidates to find new jobs. It is not the candidate’s fault. We have to stop beating up on unemployed people, and start treating them with the dignity, and respect they deserve.

    As an HR Professional, it is my job to educate the job search community about best-job search practices. Our HireFriday Community not only provides useful information, we also point people to companies, our mutual contacts, and to jobs. HireFriday is not a glorified classifieds stream on Twitter. It is a community where we remind candidates that they are not alone, or forgotten. We remind candidates that they are valuable resource people, not job beggars. We provide guidance, and job search strategy. Most importantly, we provide meaningful motivation to help them go on when they feel like giving up.

    There’s an old saying, “never take away a human being’s hope…it may be the only thing they have left.”

    It is in this spirit I support you Joanne.

    Compassionately yours,

    Margo Rose
    Founder of HireFriday

  4. Shirley says:

    Thank you for trying to bring such an awareness!
    I am really not sure how much CEOs are involved in decision making when it comes to hiring especially at middle management and lower levels. I guess it would depend on the size of the organization. From personal experience I can tell that often recruiters who may or may not be knowledgeable enough to evaluate the proper worth of a candidate based purely on past experience and education are the ones who simply turn down “unemployed” candidates. Hiring managers are culprits too! What CEOs can do is oversee the hiring process if they indeed get your message.

    What about companies who laid off employees en masse and it had nothing to do with their employee’s performance? They are now hiring but seem to be turning their back on those who want to go back to work for them.

    I am not a math guru but no matter how many new jobs are added, the unemployment rate will not go down if companies are not hiring unemployed candidates. I think they are merely moving a job opening from their company to another as they hire ones already employed. You don’t need an expert analyst to figure out this trend change if we truly want the unemployment rate to go down and improve the economy.

    Margo Rose, the old saying is so true but you really need a heart to receive the message whether you are a CEO or the lowest level recruiter. I hope there are some brave hearts out there.

    This too shall pass for the unemployed!

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