For each job offered in the marketplace today, there are 5.5 applicants.  How do you best winnow the applicant pool?  Some companies are actively choosing to reduce the number of job applicants by only accepting applications from people who already have a job. Huh?

I know that sounds crazy — why would an employer look to the employed to fill their position instead of the ranks of the unemployed?  The Huffington Post describes the phenomenon:

In a current job posting on The People Place, a job recruiting website for the telecommunications, aerospace/defense and engineering industries, an anonymous electronics company in Angleton, Texas, advertises for a “Quality Engineer.” Qualifications for the job are the usual: computer skills, oral and written communication skills, light to moderate lifting. But red print at the bottom of the ad says, “Client will not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason.” …

Ads asking the unemployed not to apply are easy to find. A Craigslist ad for assistant restaurant managers in Edgewater, N.J. specifies, “Must be currently employed.” Another job posting for a tax manager at an unnamed “top 25 CPA firm” in New York City contains the same line in all caps.

A company’s choice to ignore unemployed applicants and recycle the current workforce ignores the effect of the recession on millions of highly-qualified workers and could prolong the unemployment crisis, said Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project.

I find that purely crazy.  I guess the thinking goes that an employed person is a better hire because they already have a job and they aren’t desperate and they won’t take another job unless it’s something they really want to do — but that non-hiring trend also disqualifies, by default, a lot of smart and eager-bodied and desperate people who need a job.

Would you covet more the satisfied worker across the street, or the hungry person at your doorstep begging for a job?

I would always choose the hungry person.  I want their passion.  I want their human drive to stand up and rise from what they once were to what they are now and what they hope to become with your help.  I respect the risk of a an unemployed person who wants a job instead of staying on unemployment.  I like active people who get out of bed in the morning and who stand in line and who don’t take “no” for an answer and who will fight to earn the “yes” they deserve.  That sort of human energy becomes a memorable work ethic in my experience, and that’s why I’ll always pick the danger of the unknown promise over the satiety of what is already familiar and ordinary.


  1. They have got to be kidding. The unemployment crisis hasn’t ended and this is how they help our country — serving their own needs and ignoring the larger picture? Ridiculous.

    1. It’s absolutely ridiculous, Gordon. These companies can by choosy now, so they find ways to rationalize their cruelty in the marketplace — and what they’re doing is legal as long as they don’t discriminate on Race or Gender in doing what they’re doing.

  2. Hi, David.

    I’ve heard of this before, and it makes no sense. If a person is otherwise qualified, they should be given a chance. People lose their jobs for a wide variety of reasons (me included) and it shouldn’t be a barrier to entry.

    Whenever I start to complain about fast food service, I always say if I ever owned a Burger King I would staff it with homeless military vets. Those people would be motivated!


    1. I like your style! The, “I’m not hiring the unemployed” meme is so gross in its entirety, I can’t believe businesses actually go on the record to claim that inhuman territory.

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