Have you heard about this yet? Apparently, it’s become national news that a recruiting firm in Orlando, Florida recently published a job advertisement that included the phrase “NO UNEMPLOYED CANDIDATES” in big bold type. You’ll find the article here if you want to see the full story. The company in question, called The People Place, had been tasked with filling a bunch of positions at a new Sony Ericcson facility that was opening up in Atlanta — and apparently decided that anybody who didn’t currently have a job wasn’t qualified enough for consideration. Nice, eh?
Now it’s unclear, at least from this article, whether Sony Ericcson themselves actually endorsed or insisted on this policy or whether it was a “maverick” move taken by the recruiting firm. Either way, though, I have a hunch there’s going to be a firestorm of protest against Sony Ericcson resulting from this advertisement, either in the form of discrimination lawsuits, a consumer boycott, or both. Or maybe it will all blow over in a day and we’ll get back to worrying about the oil spill. Who knows? If nothing else though, it certainly serves as a huge wake-up call about the feelings some employers have toward folks who are not currently working. While the emotional stigma of being unemployed may not be nearly as great as it once was, due to the increased “normality” of layoffs in this day and age, the marketing stigma still applies to a healthy degree — and both employed and unemployed professionals alike should realize that when they leave a job, or lose a job, their marketability is going to take a hit.
In fact, while I certainly don’t want to endorse the contemptible practice displayed by the firm in the article, the blatant language of this advertisement might at the very least inspire some out-of-work professionals to work even harder at keeping their skills sharp during their time between jobs — or put even more prep time into the “personal press release” statement they’ll give in interviews to explain why they’re out in the market and what happened at their last position. At the end of the day, even if most employers aren’t as blatant about it as the company featured in this article, at least some level of bias exists against unemployed candidates in many hiring scenarios. And professionals seeking work shouldn’t take this dynamic lightly. They should treat it as a clearly-identified obstacle/threat/vulnerability they need to be prepared to address, neutralize, and conquer when they get the chance to interview with an organization.
In one sense, the whole story reminds me of a similar phenomenon in politics called the “Kinsley Gaffe” based on an observation made, years ago, by Democratic pundit Michael Kinsley of Crossfire fame. Familiar with the term? If not, click here and you’ll see the connection. It’s funny, as well as sad, because it’s so true!