I was watching Today this morning. Matt Lauer reported on new help wanted ads that include the stipulation that applicants must “be currently employed or recently laid-off.” Wow…that does seem slightly discriminatory, but apparently not, since it is something you can change (Many companies still discriminate based on sexuality, too. I suppose that is still viewed as something you can change…nice). The real issue here is that it isn’t always the most qualified people that a company keeps during layoffs. More often than not, it is an issue of how much money the company can save and who can mostly do the job of the people let go and be happy making less. Sad, but true, it often leaves organizations with underqualifed leaders and a very, very overworked staff. I’m thinking companies are missing an opportunity to hire highly qualified and creative unemployed people based solely on the fact that they’ve been out of work for awhile. I mean honestly…there are currently 14 million unemployed people. 14 million.
I happen to be one of the very lucky ones. I immediately got on my partner’s insurance (thank you Walgreens for being progressive enough to offer same-sex benefits), we had savings, we had put away for retirement and I got a really good part-time job. But not everyone was so lucky. Insurance became a huge issue and savings and retirement money were depleted quickly. This, by no way means, these people are not qualified to work or that they haven’t been trying desperately to rejoin the workforce. I think everyone should be given an equal chance. I know employers are getting bombarded with resumes and they want to find easier ways to sort through the candidates, but judging based on the amount of time you’ve been unemployed in this economic environment simply isn’t fair. Nor is it all that smart. You might have just passed by the most dedicated, innovative and competent employee your organization has ever had based slowly on circumstances beyond their control.