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Is it OK for Recruiters to Say “Must be Currently Employed to Apply?”

June 11, 2010 5:30 PM

Talk about disturbing job ads. Last week The Huffington Post got a ton of outraged reaction to a piece about how some companies are saying that job applicants “must be currently employed” to be considered. Seemed like an incredible tactic for any company to take, since it wrongly implies that if you’re out of work you’re lazy or worthless. And it’s particularly stunning during one of the biggest economic downturns in history when millions of people have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and would love to work anywhere.

I did my own checking and sure enough, found dozens of postings for a wide variety of job sites—from medical sales jobs to business development to restaurant workers—which have that requirement spelled out in their postings. Predictably, when confronted, many of the companies backtracked, saying that the requirement was a mistake. Which makes me think it’s probably happening a lot. Could the unwritten rule at some companies be to ignore applicants who don’t have jobs? What do you think? Does this bother you or are companies justified? Tell us your opinion.

Comments (81)

Appalling ... should be illegal to deny unemployed people a chance to work again ... and enforced as such! ... Also, illogical as many talented, competent professionals will be left out - what a national and global waste of brain power, energy and resources - that no organiz / country can afford! (Read 'Outliers' by Malcolm Gladwell) Wish everyone would get laid off / terminated at least once for a prolonged period ... as we all know, unfortunately, that it takes having experienced something to truly and fully understand and have empathy for others!

This is one of the most ridiculous things I have heard in a long time. So if a person was laid off this is even more bad news they don't need, I think there should be a list made of the companies that have this requirement so that they can be overwhelmed with e-mails and letters. If we stay silent it will continue and get worse, this is discrimination plain and simple.

I am currently employed, but am outraged at this policy. Looking back, if this is true, I was one of those that looked and applied steadily for two years before a friend referred me to a job. This policy outrages me. I agree it is a form of discrimination. Why can't they interview based on the skills of the applicant? Why would they want to eliminate very qualified people solely because they were laid off? I have family and friends that are in this position. They know that everytime they apply online, they are one of possibly thousands that also apply. The odds are so low already. These companies don't care about the unemployment rate and the faces behind the statistics. This is a policy the government needs to look into. Discrimination is discrimination.

How is this practice not discriminatory? It's a deliberate attempt to single out a specific group of workers and label them as ineligible for employment. Any HR professional that would rubber stamp this as an acceptable should be checking the equal opportunity guidelines or checking that their resume is up to date...

I've heard of this many times from HR people with openings. I think it is so short-sighted and discriminatory. Especially in this economy, it's unfair to the unemployed whose numbers are so large and it's unfair to employers who have to worry about their competitors taking their employees while there are perfectly qualified unemployed workers who could step into the job. This practice forces two employers to train new workers instead of just one.

I think it is totally unfair - just because someone is unemployed doesn't mean they won't contribute to a company's success! Women can take control of their own careers by becoming a freelance, contract, remote, or temp worker -- this is the fastest growing job category! Everyday we speak with individuals that realize the benefits of defining themselves as this type of worker! It's a great way to build a full-time pay check and be hired based on your skills and how you will contribute to a projects success! Werkadoo's goal is to help people achieve a full-time paycheck without necessarily having a full-time job. WWW.WERKADOO.COM -- sign up, and please let me know if you have any questions or comments! lisa.werhan@werkadoo.com

This has been an unspoken requirement for years. Employers are just bolder now with thier discrimination.

There is no question that most companies hire only those recently employed or currently employed. And to be honest, I would rather that the company disclose their policies up front than let job applicants waste their efforts applying for jobs they won't be considered for. As a stay at home mome for twelve years, I now know I don't have a chance of returning to my field and/or executive position and/or salary despite not losing any brain cells! But HR doesn't think that way!

I am an executive recruiter and will not work for any company that says it will only hire those currently employed. In this current economic climate it is insensitive, short sighted, self-limiting and downright ridiculous. Let's hope this requirement dies an early & unceremonious death!

I'm a staffing agent with my own firm and I had not heard of this from any of my clients until three weeks ago and it was from a strategic partner who wanted help working on a regional position. We ultimately chose not to work on the assignment. Several days after this happened, a client called with a new job that they needed filled and I asked the question - dreading the answer - "Will you entertain people who have been out of work." It had never occurred to me to ask this question and frankly, I would present the best candidate regardless of their work status no matter what. Her response was that she assumed that people out of work WOULD be the only people she'd be entertaining. I know this trend exists, but I am very happy to say that we work with multiple clients and NONE of them enlist the practice.

I find these actions quite disturbing and defeating, how can companies want to offer employement to people who already have jobs? Do these companies reside in mars where they have no clue of the current economic crisis? There are lots of highly talented people who have lost jobs due to different reasons beyond their control. In conversations these days people talk about employee loyality becoming a joke, it is absurd that companies who are discriminating and offering employment to people who already have jobs are encouraging employees to forget about being loyal and just jump to the next competitive position! Hopefully this will be added into the employment discrimination laws.

I think it's stupid for employers to assume the employed are the more worthwhile. Anyone and I do mean ANYONE who is looking to leave a job in this market to go to another job is covering up alot of secrets you should be concerned about!

Any good employee in good standing in is this market is staying put until the market turns around again. They are not leaving a good (job) situation for the risk(s) of all the unknowns of taking on a new role/job unless they are REALLY stupid in which case do you REALLY want this person on your team?

Just a thought...

I just heard a story about Avis (the car rental company) having this policy - an individual was in the process of being hired, and lost his job (position was eliminated) in the meantime, and they declined to hire him because of it. This is definitely a discriminatory policy, and I think Congress should do something about it! What's next - blond hair/blue eyes need not apply?!? At the minimum, I won't be using Avis for any car rentals anytime soon!

I am furious with these companies. Many qualified unemployed people are out there who would make excellent, loyal employees. They are hurting the economy by not hiring these deserving people. And, why would a company want to hire someone who is already employed - knowing that these people are willing to leave them at any moment? Crazy. I think these companies with these requirements should be boycotted. Unemployed people should not be punished in this way. They are trying to find a job and these idiots won't hire them. They could get them at a bargain price and have a high quality person, so their actions are heartless and senseless at the same time.

I have seen quite a few companies actually post ads stating 'those currently not actively employed need not apply' - sounds discriminatory to me but is there a law against it? As we are trying to jump start this economy it would seem those employers who choose not to employ the unemployed are missing a huge part of the labor pool. It would make me hesitate to want to do business with a firm promoting this type of policy - a stupid one at that.

I’ve seen these types of ads (and they really bother me).. A few others are those who seek only IVY League candidates (like their degree are the only one’s that matter)… Another message I’ve seen in job postings is – seeking candidates who have graduated college within the past 4 years and another one relates to seeking individuals with high energy.. I believe that all of these should be labeled as discrimination. And, the main issue is HR is often manned with young people (under 30) and they are seeking to hire people like themselves (and they create this ridicules and unfair pre-qualifiers)...

I remember when my sister graduated medical school and was interviewed for a position at an HMO. The person interviewing her told her outright that he didn't want to hire women because they only then get married, get pregnant and quit their jobs! I find that only interviewing and considering people who are already employed smacks of the same kind of discrimination! Yes, it sounds like they are assuming that anyone who is unemployed is lazy and/or must have "left" their previous position for some negative personal reason and is therefore a risk. How to get around any kind of hiring discrimination, though, because just because it is not stated or claimed they can still use this as criterion when choosing candidates for a job.

Being unemployed is not an indicator of one's ability to perform a job. I have a MBA in a primarily blue-collar town. In fact, I am overqualified, educationally, but would consider a blue collar job and work just as hard as the next person, because I know I am expendable. I have been downsized 3 times in 8 years. How am I supposed to stop being a burden on society, or save for my retirement so I won't continue to be a burden on taxpayer dollars if no one will hire me? I think such a prejudice is unethical, immoral, and shows the deep state of non-empathy our country has fallen into. We will send millions of dollars to Haiti, the Indian Ocean, and other points far flung, but not reach out a hand to help a fellow citizen?

That is horrendous. I cannot believe that can happen in such a "politically correct" environment as the U.S. It would certainly be illegal in Western Europe. I'd love to boycott these companies. Who are they?

This is discrimination, pure and simple. So, now, unemployed persons (like myself) aren't even worth recruting.
First, the credit check, now this. I think most unemployed people will work harder than any comfortable, long term employee when they are hired.
It's been a long year.

These companies are either trying to reduce the number of unqualified applicants who are applying for jobs because of the job search requirements for unemployment benefits, or they are arrogant, self-serving and out-of-touch. If it's the latter, they will pay one way or another by contributing to the welfare state. They will be taxed to death. With this mindset there are no winners.

I, too saw ads stating "Must be currently employed." I was aghast at that outrageous demand. There is a REAL WORLD out there with 1 person out of 10 "in transition." I was unemployed for 13 months. I belonged to a Peer Group that had CEOS,CFOS, a paralegal,an architect, a pharmacist,sales reps, tech support and a copier repair person. Every level and line of work. All fine people. Not a loser amongst them. I guess all are tossed in a garbage pile when it comes to hiring them, because they are not currently employed. Such ignorance and prejudice does not speak well of those companies with the demand that job candidates be currently employed. Who would want to work for a loser company like them?

I think it's immoral and unethical that some companies will only consider the currently employed. It wouldn't surprise me if these same companies complain that they can't find "qualified" applicants. Well, if you limit your pool to the currently employed, you're missing a whole lot of qualified people. The other disturbing thing is that some people are now claiming that the extended length of time some people are unemployed is proof that people are staying on unemployment instead of looking for work. Well, if you have to be employed to get a job and you're unemployed, you're caught in a Catch 22 like most of us were when we entered the work force, i.e., a lot of jobs required experience but how were you going to get experience if no one would hire you. Also, considering a lot of people can barely survive on the unemployment benefits, it seems nonsensical to think they'd want to stay on unemployment if they had a job offer. After all the people on unemployment aren't exactly getting the bonuses the bankers are getting compliments of the taxpayers.

As for the unemployed woman, volunteer some place to keep yourself busy and your mind off your own problems. You'll be using your skills and being useful. And, you may even connect with someone who can help you get a job.

Let's face it, this economy has given employers the red light to be as discriminating as they choose too. They are saying whatever they want in their ads and they are asking ridiculous qualifications and cutting the salaries to the bare minimum. These are employers who have found it to their advantage to take advantage of people in this economic climate.

I've heard of this too that employers will not even look at you if you're unemployed. This is disturbing because I'm in Michigan and Michigan has been hard hit. I would be concerned with can they get away with it? I would also like to add that I strongly believe companies are using HR to eliminate employees which also isn't right but given at will law, they can get away with it. Perhaps we need to have the EEOC look into this or advocate that some laws and penalties be enforced against companies that encourage this practice.

I couldn't believe this either. So I sent the email to all my friends asking them to let me know who these companies are and to boycott them. I do NOT want to purchase products from a company with this type of Neanderthal thinking. I certainly would not want to work there either. Pity the poor people already there.

I'm looking for a progressive, out of the box thinking company who can use my administrative skills. Thank you for separating the wheat from the chaff companies.

Sounds like a new form of discrimination. I think any company that includes something like this could be setting themself up for a lawsuit - even if a precedent doesn't currently exist.

One can always be creative and say you are .... (fill in the blank) at your own company. I'm self employed and while I am looking for full time I AM WORKING. Whether it is looking for my own work, looking full time, or honing my skills. So if a company request you must already be employed, I can say "hey I am."

I'm trying to understand why would a company add that as part of their new hire procedure.I worked at a bank a few years ago in HR, many of our tellers were thieves and had records. So what does it matter whether someone is working when they apply for a position..Crazy!

To the woman who is struggling right now with job loss...I have been there and felt that. The word of advice I have for you is to remember after every rain, there is a rainbow. Hard times have shaped my character and built my strength greater than any good time. This time will pass and you will be back on top once again!!! Start building from within because your job does not define you, you define you!!

There is an old adage "you have to have a job to get a job". It's nothing new. I think it's strange in today's environment to emphasize it. As a recruiter, I actually prefer unemployed candidates right now. I'm more likely to waste my time with someone who is employeed -- they tend to get cold feet at the offer stage. No one wants to be the last one hired.

I imagine it's either left over thinking from the days of low unemployment or they are just trying to narrow down their applicants. The number of applicants can be intimidating in today's economy!

I think it is outrageous that employers are kicking the unemployed while they are down. However, I am not surprised by the requirement. Employers know that they have more of an upper-hand, now more than ever, because of the economy. Therefore, they are using all types of unreasonable tactics to exclude certain people from employment; such as using credit checks and requiring that you be currently employed, etc.

I was downsized from a major insurance company almost three years ago. Luckily, I was able to find work right away, but there are several of my ex-coworkers who are still out of work. If a person is out of work for any length of time, they may be in a situation where they are forced to decide on whether to pay their rent or buy food for the family, rather than to pay their Visa bill, or to make the car payment. A bad credit rating does not equal a bad employee, nor does an unemployed person equal a lazy employee.

Human resources personnel and recruiters need to get a reality check. It could very easily be one of them on the other end of an unreasonable requirement to gain employment if the company that they currently work for decide to downsize, go out of business or simply decide that they no longer want that person to work for their organization. Then the people who are imposing these ridculous conditions can try and make sense of how a person's credit rating or employment status affects one's ability to perform dutites that has nothing to do with either of those things.

It should be against the law for employers to be able to make any unreasonable requirement a condition of employment, or in this case, an interview. What's next? People with children, or green eyes need not apply? Where does it end?

Any unreasonable requirements that bar employment are covert discriminatory tactics, and they should not be legal or tolerated. Companies, along with the people who enforce this requirement should be procecuted and/or fined for such behavior.

It seems that on this planet employers can do and say what ever they want. My problem is not with them so much, as it is with media people adding insult to injury by constantly spreading or they might call it, sharing.. gloom and doom. What does it matter to me as a job seeker that employers are doing this?

If I wanted to complain and be outraged about something, it would be about being laid off in the first place!!! Do I not do my needful job searches because of this... and then rant and rave.. and get scared? Or what? I say.. you guys knock it off and keep putting out information that's HELPFUL. Many job seekers have enough to worry about and can create a sense of low self confidence and low self esteem - on their own! Without constantly reading and hearing bad news from external sources.

That's just my 2cents!

Yes, it does bother me. My own recruiters with whom I have been working are telling me they prefer to work with those that are currently employed;they are easier to place.

They are certainly missing out on some great talent.

Oh, I have heard another one. It was for an experienced "development officer", and required experience, but only PAID experienced persons need apply--so those mothers who ran school & church fundraisers, with PR, auction experience etc were immediately left out of consideration!

I have noticed this trend since 2002 when the telecom industry started laying people off. Another increasing problem is that many companies are purposely misleading applicants about jobs they are applying for. An example was a job advertised as a Project Manager position which turned out to be data entry and other companies claiming project management jobs when the jobs are more of a business analyst or technical subject matter expertt.

Truth in job advertisement is sorely needed.

Hopefully these companies will update their "unspoken" rules and change the way they word their job postings, especially in light of the new Federal HIRE Act that is focused on job creation, primarily to accelerate the hiring of unemployed workers that will impact employers, including a Payroll Tax Exemption with 2 distinct credits, a Social Security Tax Exemption and a Tax Credit.

I think that hiring someone that hasn't been working may appear as a disadvantage in that one's skills begin to diminish, but if that applicant is putting forth the effort to maintain their skills, further their education, and passionate about obtaining an opportunity for employment versus riding the unemployment checks, then I think a company is missing out on a potentially great employee. It's hard to tell if you don't at least give that person a chance.

I'll bet the employees of companies who use this kind of tactic are ready and willing to jump ship at the first opportunity. Even though I'm frequently underemployed and currently unemployed (and so do not qualify), I wouldn't even think about applying to this kind of corporate mentality - too much stress!

I believe that those without jobs just may be the luckiest of all. They are forced to consider other options, such as starting their own business and even asking themselves the really hard questions like "what am I passionate about?" That can prove to be so much more rewarding and lucrative than they ever thought possible. That is what happened to me.

It's been my experience that this has been going on for almost 2 years in the mortgage industry. No jobs to apply for and if you do find one they tell you that you do not qualify since you have not worked in the most recent year, or 6 months what ever the amount of time they feel is necessary.

In this job market, I would advise someone who is employed to stay away from a company unwilling to hire the unemployed. My take on the situation is that the company has a rapid turnover due to a questionable work environment and poor management - so they figure someone who leaves a job to work for them is less likely to quit.

In over 15 years of recruiting, I've NEVER heard a company say that wouldn't consider someone in transition. I'm not doubting the source, just has not been my experience.

This smacks of discrimination and cherry picking. I don't believe it was a mistake its as intentional as the good old "we looked externally, interviewed you and got your hopes up but the job was always going to go to an internal candidate." UGH! I feel so used and dirty and top that with looking at credit rating and demanding it be at a certain level you've got people disenfranchised and marginalized (most often WOMEN).

This is so inconsiderate! These agencies do not know us! We are unemployed not dishonest, deadbeats, thives, or crooks! We are simply people that are having a difficult time finding employment. We are not asking for a hand-out. We are just asking for an opportunity to present what an asset we would be to any company!

We have experience, drive and capabilites that these recruiters and/or potential employers are short changing themselves by putting such restrictions. As our savings are dwindling due to these type of restrictions...so is our self esteem.

These type of tactics are the same as saying: "this person is too old, too fat, too unattractive, not the right type of person or race to work for my company!" This type of "profiling" is "legal" discrmination!

I think it's an outrage. There are many qualified, capable, responsible individuals who, through no fault of their own, are currently unemployed.

Sadly, a mentality like this (and let's hope it does not become widespread among corporations)will keep them unemployed no matter how hard they pound the pavement looking for work.

It's clearly a form of discrimination in my mind.

People, let's not give into the senselss strategies of the recruiters. This is all a ploy of the companies they work for (who make the decisions)to keep people interested in them or their advertised companies. As long as they have applicants or responses, they get paid. The need to prove their work to the companies they represent and the companies are using the recruiters as stale tatics because they are not really hiring right now but need to keep themselves out there to beat the competition. All of these big company tactics say one thing to me--become an employer myself, be honest, just & fair, teach others to not use wallsteet but to use may street(small businesses in the community) to conduct business, have a product or service that requires no competition & when one comes along stay true to your calling, customers & employees and they will stay loyal to you! Oh, on last thought, don't be greedy! Isn't that how we got into this economic mess in the first place?

People, let's not give into the senselss strategies of the recruiters. This is all a ploy of the companies they work for (who make the decisions)to keep people interested in them or their advertised companies. As long as they have applicants or responses, they get paid. The need to prove their work to the companies they represent and the companies are using the recruiters as stale tatics because they are not really hiring right now but need to keep themselves out there to beat the competition. All of these big company tactics say one thing to me--become an employer myself, be honest, just & fair, teach others to not use wallsteet but to use may street(small businesses in the community) to conduct business, have a product or service that requires no competition & when one comes along stay true to your calling, customers & employees and they will stay loyal to you! Oh, on last thought, don't be greedy! Isn't that how we got into this economic mess in the first place?

Only hiring people that are employed makes no sense. Would you like to have employees that after the expense of training and hiring them would just jump ship? If you are employed in these unsure days what could they offer to you to leave your job? How would these companies feel about recruiters approaching their employees?

I am not surprised. I am outraged, but not surprised.

My question is: is it possible to file a discrimination lawsuit based on a job description that clearly states that you must be already employed to apply? After all, aren't companies supposed to adhere to equal opportunity employment? I understand that "employed status" is not protected under that law, but neither was race or disability at one point - until people fought for it. The GLBT community is currently fighting for equal employment - so I don't see how this is any different. It is still a deplorable hiring practice.

Many people here have mentioned that they would not want to work for a company that would discriminate based on employment. That's fine. However, that kind of hiring mentality is contagious if not put to an end. Given time, this will become common practice. So it's important to make the "powers that be" aware of this, and how ultimately disastrous it is for the entire country as a whole.

What is truly sad, is that the people doing this must be completely delusional and masochistic. Obviously they don't see the possibility that they too will be fired or let go. If I were in that position, I would be doing everything in my power to make the work culture a better place for everyone, including myself - because tomorrow I may be the one unable to get a job because I'm unemployed.

Luciana Morais

Millions of excellent workers are out of work right now. Therefore, I suggest we publish a national database of companies that require applicants to be employed to be considered. We should stop using the products or services of these companies and urge government to remove tax benefits where feasible. All levels of government should stop using these companies as suppliers, because they are undesirable corporate citizens who could destroy the American economy.

It simply makes no sense. According to the BLS, for the month of May, there are 6.8 million unemployed here in the U.S. It's like kicking you when you're already down. Are we content to let this segment (unemployed) of our society lose their homes and just fall by the wayside? Are we content to create a "permanent" population of people who remain unemployed? Instead of working together to try to get our country back on track, we seem to be doing everything possible to prevent it. On second thought, who would want to work for a corporation with such cruel and mean spirited policies.

This is absolutely crazy and yes it is discrimination. I agree with the other posters who said this is a matter that the EEOC should look into. I have been unemployed for nearly a year and have been applying for positions every day with no responses. I was floored when a couple of weeks ago a Roberthalf recruiter told me that employers were not considering unemployed candidates. I thought that makes no sense at all, what was worse was that the recruiter asumed I left my position voluntarily.....I said to him I did not leave by choice, do you know Merrill Lynch does not exsit anymore! They are missing out on great candidates that have a lot to offer.

Yes, this is a disturbing trend. Most employers looking for admin workers go thru temp agencies. They are telling the temp agencies this is a requirement. I live in Detroit and there are hundreds vying for the few admin jobs out there. This is one way that employers use this criteria to narrow their search.

Hi Tory,

My answer is no for all the reason you pointed out.
If we were currently employed we probably would not be looking for a job in this day and time. Another strange trend.

I first seen a similar ad two weeks ago on our local news. A middle-age gentleman was seeking employment elsewhere after getting laid off showed an ad stating the same thing and added to it was no exceptions. He said he had a career and is well qualified to do the job.... I wonder how many companes really feel this way but will not post it because it is discrimitory. Now I know why I haven't got a job after being laid off for two years. I attend countless job fairs right afterwards, and all I get---with that look--- apply online. I'm not lazy, but I am middle-age woman and would like to work a job where I will be for a while. Talking about becoming an extrovert after being an introvert; it really is who you know.

Your original question was 'is it OK for recruiters to say that you must be employed to apply' and the answer is simply NO. It is rude, pompous, and completely without regard for any employer to use this as a prerequisite for application. It is simply none of their business what ones employment status is. I would not even want to work for a company with that stance or attitude.

This type of discrimination is not new. It does indicate, as other have suggested, a company that is misguided - or an HR dept that has its own set of standards and not being a benefit to the company. I was once told that we could not hire a specific person because he had seen a mental helth worker to discuss his situation - a PHD candidate at MIT who found that he did not want to complete the requirements. We interviewed him anyway, against HR's recommendations, and did hire him. The HR dept was outraged but could not do anything about it. The end of the story is that 6 months later after his first performance review- the head of HR had the nerve to brag to me about this person's performance and how they the HR dept had once again found a great person- well, you can imagine what was said. This resulted in quite a few HR people losing their positions and a permanent change in the questionaire job candidates were expected to complete.

Yes, this is discrimination and the company doing it is not a place anyone dshould consire. One way around this is to get a contact at the highest level in the compay as then ask that person why they are so intent of having the company fail. Often upper management or ever hiring managers know nothing of these tactics- such an HR dept is doing that company no good service.

I think this is crazy, most people looking for employment are not working. This is the reason most people are loooking for a job. I would think the Companies that have added this to their requirement, really does not want people to apply or they do not really have any openings and are building up their application files to satisfy some regulation to be considered for aid in the cost of hiring and training new personnel. CRAZY Times we are living in...

IDIOTS,IDIOTS IDIOTS. The type of company that has this requirement is NOT one I would want to work for. This is a shallow, discrimnatory, biased, prejudiced requirement to have. In this severe economic downturn how is one supposed to become gainfully employed again with this kind of standard. And I agree the majority of the comments posted, that these entities are passing up some very intelligent, experienced, strong work ethic individuals who happen to be unemployed through no fault of their own. Lastly, the individual who created such a standard to be published should think, NO ONE HAS A JOB THAT IS WRITTEN IN STONE. THIS PERSON COULD VERY WELL FIND THEMSELVES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET WITH THE REST OF US WHO ARE TEMPORARILY UNEMPLOYED.

Tory's question obviously hit a nerve with so many of us. Recruiters (many of whom have been out of work in this downturn) immediately go back to the idea that passive candidates MUST be better than active candidates once they are in the recruiting role. Pile on top of this ridiculous bias is that the unemployment laws ""job seekers by reducing or totally eliminating unemployment assistance for someone who takes on a part-time role if they are on extended benefits. This is a huge on-going discussion in MA with grassroots advocacy to our politicians. Tonight it will be the topic of discussion on our evening news.

As someone who was previously unemployed for a significant amount of time after a layoff and continue to have friends suffer the same fate I am not surprised by this. It is offensive and I hope during this economic downturn our gov't does consider the unemployed as a protected group. They've shown this in ways by extending unemployment but have not look at the discriminatory practices of businesses large and small.

Many businesses have taken advantage of this economy to reduce salary offerings and dumb down roles to satisfy their bottom line. After 18 months and countless conversations with other unemployed colleagues it is very clear that hiring managers, so-called HR professionals and recruiters are clueless when it comes to determining qualifying skills. While they are inundated with resumes. Once they've begun the process of elimination the methods they rely on our outdated.

The role I landed recently was done the hard way. Email resume, what for a call back, phone interview, 2 face-to-face and the offer. Had I gone through a web site submittal process I'm sure my talent and skills would be lost in cyber space. There are too many out of work and too many businesses with practices like this for the issue to be ignored. I think the EEOC needs to get involved and keep this conversation going.

I have one question for the employers that would ask this question: What rock have they been living under in the 2 1/2 years? I live in the state of IL and our unemployment rate is higher than the national average. Maybe they need switch places to understand what it is like to be unemployed in this time of a job market

In what is one of the most unprecedented and worst economic downturns in our history, I find it absolutely incredulous that employers hold this "there must be something wrong with you if you are unemployed" attitude.

This ludicrous "job requirement" just reeks of shallowness and superficiality and also reflects people's tendency to make assumptions about things or people before knowing the whole story.

I wonder how these recruiters/employers would feel if they were on the other side of the coin, i.e., job hunting. Perhaps that is the only - and best - way for them to learn.

Thank g-d I'm not job hunting right now (I'm starting/running my own biz). But that doesn't mean I can't be angry and annoyed about this attitude on behalf of those are who are seeking jobs...because, really, haven't we all been there at some point or another?

Oh wait, I forgot...these recruiters/employers haven't...

- Rachel

P.S. - This is why it's important to find productive ways to spend your time while job-hunting and add these productive things to your resume so it appears that you are doing something.

P.P.S. - I have found a good job before while I was unemployed, so stay hopeful and don't buy into this attitude. Remember, each of us ultimately defines who we are. Not anyone else.

Has anyone explored this through the EEOC or OFCCP? As I understand it, employers are free to establish basic requirements for a candidate to meet, but if challenged, the "basic requirements' must be defendable in court and the employer would be required to show a business reason for the requirement. Unfortunately "unemployed" is not a protected class and therefore I don't believe this is discrimination in the true sense of word, however is it a form of discrimination, not to mention a very poor business practice. As a recruiter and HR professional, I can't think of one strong business case that could support how someones employment status could have a significant impact on the business or in their ability to successfully perform the functions of the job. The good news here is that while these employers are free to determine what makes someone qualified to work for them, we as consumers are equally as qualified to determine what companies we choose to do business with. I for one would not continue to support any organization that discounts people in my position. When I am once again employed and spending money, it won't be at any company that thought I was not good enough to support them when I was not working.

Discriminatory and ARROGANT! Even companies that do not post it, use that philosophy when hiring.

To me saying to an HR person that you were laid-off or that your business closed is like saying I was a part of a losing team therfore my decision making abilities are below par, my sales ability is below par and they don't want you. So now they are saying upfront...if not employed we don't want you...Discrimination? Yes!

Companies are NOT justified in any way. They will be missing out on many incredibly talented and hard working individuals who are ready to hit the ground running. Shouldn't that be considered discrimination? Thousands have been laid off through no fault of their own and should not be punished and ruled out because of it! Shame on those companies and I hope they reap what they sow!

Well, this one seems perplexing to me...I can't find a point to the requirement. If a person is already employed, and just putting their 'feelers' out there, they have the upper hand as far as negotiating across the board, whereas, an unemployed person would probably be more eager to get the job and get started...can't see the advantage to the employer...HOWEVER, if I ever came across this type of job post, it would be a HUGE red flag for what I might be in store for down the road...I am sure I would not give THEM the opportunity of an audience!

When I was going through my job search last summer, I found that many recruiting companies simply did not understand that talented, hardworking individuals are out of work at times. There was a definite perception from the recruiter end that candidates that were employed were a better use of their time. I do not agree with that, however I see that the recruiters were simply taking the lazy way out, maximizing what they felt were their best opportunities to place individuals, and the quickest way to pad their pay check. I think that as talented job-seekers, we speak out, bring it to the surface, and find those companies or recruiters that are looking for the best talent, not the easiest placement. I was told by a recruiter during my job search that I wasn't place-able because I had three jobs (that had significantly accelerated my career) on my resume. For a while, I truly believed that I was not placeable, however the more and more I speak to successful businesswomen, I find that many have created a successful, solid career for themselves with many more occupations listed on their resume than mine. That being said, recruiters don't always get it because they are simply out there placing people- they aren't out there doing the work. Yes, they are helpful in our job search and yes, there are talented individuals out there with their client and candidate's best interest in mind. I say that to be discouraged is a normal, human reaction, but on the flip side, I've never met a successful person who took no for an answer at the beginning. I say apply anyway, make your resume shine and if it is a job that you think would highlight your skills and they would be crazy to NOT have you, then get creative and get in front of that interview panel any way you can!

Throughout most of my adult life, I have been aware that many companies prefer to hire people who are already employed. This had been confirmed by a number of recruiters with whom I registered. It seems to be an ego boost to be able to seduce an employee away from another company. However, it is incredibly shocking that it could be happening in today's economy. Personally, I was laid off 18 months ago due to downsizing in my company and it had no reflection on how good I was at my job.

I am certain the "old school" mentality of some HR managers or hiring directors is that someone without a job will possibly say anything to get hired. Whereas someone currently employed will not and by that be a better fit for the company.

Pre-cluding people who aren't employed is quite short-sighted on their part however. They are limiting their pool of possible skills and talents that would be an asset to whatever organization they are hiring for.

I believe that the company that post job adds as you mention are only limiting themselves. Even if a person was fired or things didn't work out with one employer doesn't mean that they aren't a great employee or won't be an asset to the new employer. Sometimes personalities don't click and person isn't a good match for that employer. That doesn't mean they won't be a good match for the next employer. I think that if a company has a HR department who is that lazy and doesn't want to search for a suitable employee. I had a friend who was a threat to the boss so she fired her. Everyone in the department knew it as well. She was a great employee. I think you should consider if you truely want to work for that type of company any way. That maybe a warning sign of many other problems.

No.

I'm not a lawyer but sure looks like a clear cut case of discrimination to me!

As an unemployed 56 year old woman, my position was eliminated last October. I'm having a difficult time finding another position and find it disconcerting that any employer would be so bold as to only hire currently employed job seekers.

I say we bombard these ads with our out of work job applications!!!!!!!!!!

I lost my job almost a year ago, and I have been hit with this problem many times. I don't think this is right at all! I think someone should step in and require these companies to change the policy. Companies are changing the way they do business, and letting people go so they don't have to pay the employee (pharma/medical), and it's a benefit for them and now they can keep people from working this way as well. As all of this takes place, they still want you to contribute to society. How can you do that, when they will not hire you?

Absolutely! I have been told by a recruiter that Employers like my experience, however they were not considering me because of my "unemployment status". I try to keep my spirits high by asking myself, given this mindset during these times is this a company I want to work for? Especially since a company's narrow mind set could/will preclude them from potentially excellent candidates/employees. It's difficult.
Thank you for all that you do, and good luck with all this week!

I think this has been going on and just now has come to light. It may explain why so many people can submit many mnay resumes and never get an interview. There are many reasons why a person is currently unemployed - lazy and worthless is probably not at the top of the list. I do not understand why a company would want to do this. It would eliminate a large number of potential applicants that are highly qualified for the job. How is someone ever going to get a job if current employment is a requirememt. This falls into the same category as some of the criteria these days such as checking credit that don't make sense.

Tory, yes this has always bothered me to no end. Posting it in ads is a bold new step that I had not seen in the past and particularly brutal in an economy where so many are in the market. Recruiters will tell you that companies that hire them don't pay them to recruit the unemployed but to find talent wanted by the competition. With age discrimination, salary profiling and now this, it is no wonder why so many are ditching corporate life and creating their own path!

I think it is another way for employers to discriminate! It's not different than an employer trying to ask indirectly if you have children!

It's all a symptom of slowly being controlled. It started with no smoking, next they check your credit and if you have bad credit they won't hire you and now if you aren't employed. What is next?

I am outraged at the companies that do not consider you unless you are currently employed. It is unfair and they are limiting themselves as well. Sometimes good people with good morals and work ethic are out of work. I just dont know what can be done about this type of discrimination.

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