I haven’t been working for a couple of years. Well, technically I have been working, but not for a salary. I’ve been writing, and while I haven’t been earning a salary, trust me, it’s work. I make some money as a freelance marketer. I have a couple of clients for whom I write white papers, web content, press releases and the like. I also manage events and other marketing projects. I want to keep my skills sharp in case this writing thing doesn’t work out.
Even though I’m not looking for a job-job, once in a while I’ll hear of an interesting opportunity. If that coincides with a day that hasn’t been productive, or a fleeting depression for some other reason, I might submit a resume. I’m committed enough to producing a saleable novel that I don’t invest much emotion in these forays, and I’m not terribly disappointed when their lack of interest matches my own. That being said, I had an experience recently that made my blood boil.
An in-house recruiter for a software company that does mid- to front-office financial services solutions found my profile on LinkedIn. He wrote that the company was looking for a Director of Marketing and would I be interested? I pondered that question for a bit and decided that there was no harm in talking to them.
Shortly after I replied, I got another email from the recruiter saying he had studied my on-line profile further and realized that I was not currently working. He said, and I’m quoting here, “One of our criteria’s [sic] that we have to adhere to is any person we are considering for employment needs to be currently employed.” I had encountered my first real live Catch-22. I was stunned. Not so much that the company had an internal policy, but that they would say it out loud.
I contacted a lawyer friend of mine and asked if it was legal to tell a prospective candidate that they couldn’t be considered if they were unemployed. She assured me that the unemployed were not a protected class and it was legal, albeit stupid. Hot on the heels of my own experience, Adrian Walker, a columnist at The Boston Globe, wrote a piece called Jobless need not apply. He wrote that, “The problem isn’t limited to Massachusetts. … some states, such as New Jersey, have passed or are considering laws that would ban employers from refusing to consider unemployed applicants.”
I know I asked if it was legal, but really, is this something we need a law for? Do these companies not read the papers? There are people who need jobs out there! The people who have jobs, well, they have jobs! How about we get a job for everyone who wants to go back to work, and then worry about the folks who are looking for a different job?
Maybe then companies can hire people based on their applicable skills, instead of their current job status. Perhaps the company that contacted me could hire a recruiter with better communication skills; someone smart enough to reject me in a less inflammatory fashion. I would have said, “I’m sorry, but we are looking for someone with more financial services experience.” If he’d written that, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. But then I wouldn’t have had a blog post for this week.
Inasmuch as I’ve discovered that not having a job may preclude getting a job, this writing thing better work out.
Pingback: Judy Mintz: No job? Then no job! « NESCBWI Kidlit Reblogger
Of course, the real tragedy is that the recruiter is missing out on a very talented and highly productive prospective employee. I’ve worked with you, Judy, and you rock. How stupid is that?
It is truly unbelievable. This is ONE — probably one of the very few things — for which I think there SHOULD be a law….to allow the unemployed to find employment. Instead we have laws about same sex marriage, laws about peanut butter in schools, laws about super packs being OK to “buy” as much media as they want to, ignorant proposals to shut down Wikipedia, endless laws about bicycles, scooters and skateboards, and all sorts of laws encouraging frivolous litigation. Meanwhile, I hear that all the entitlement programs should be cut, the fed. and state subsidies should be cut — AND (direct quote from a TV sound byte re: the “occupy Boston” protesters) that all those without work “are just lazy and should go get a job.” It’s enough to make me want to go light up a joint. (Ooops….nope…there’s a law against that.) This is NOT the first time I have heard talk of this “unemployed need not apply clause.” But you — of all people (one of the sharper co-workers I have had the pleasure to work with) — are the first person I know who actually “experienced” it! Perhaps it’s time for you to enter politics, Judy? You’re sure smarter than most of those I’ve heard in the recent presidential debates. Maybe you could start by offering Romney some PR advice — preferably should have been done when he released his tax returns, but he missed that window — citing that his SOLE donations to the “charity” of the Mormon Church actually goes, not JUST to fund the Church, but to cite some of the many “non-Mormon” activities that his $3 million will be used for. Otherwise, he just looks like a major donor to a suspicious cult. OR…maybe you should start your own non-profit — the Cult of the Underemployed. Give yourself a salary, and get tax exempt status?
A tax exempt cult, I love it! It sounds like a great way to make money, and it’s a wonderful idea for a book! The thing that upsets me the most about this experience is that it makes it harder to believe that being over 50 with gray hair won’t get in the way of finding a job, too.
Regarding the aging worker and “greying hair” — I always chuckled at the fact that work-financed Health Insurance paid for child birth, but not any youth enhancing “elective procedures” (i.e. face lifts, botox, hair implants, heck…even a good hair colorist, etc., etc.) While not relevant to all positions w/in corporations, what makes you a more productive outside sales person — babies or botox? I mean, youthful looks is one of those things that is proven to “help” ensure being hired, and/or getting one’s foot in the door if already working in sales. But babies…..without a Nanny, they get sick and you either stay home with them and/or get sick, too. And then, later, you gotta attend all those soccer games. Years ago, I concluded that a “seasoned professional” meant salt and pepper hair. But I guess the times are a changing. Maybe dye your hair purple, Judy, and go for a job with a hip hop start up. 😉
From a corporate perspective the (short-sighted) rationale *might* be that those who are still employed are the best people, the others having been winnowed out by reductions in force. Which completely disregards other reasons for unemployment such as companies or divisions closing, personal life changes, etc..
Or maybe the corporation figures that anyone who’s been self employed is too much of a free spirit to be the proper corporate drone they want…? Consider it a compliment! And…I resemble that remark, too~
Oh I understand, after all, I worked in corporate America for a zillion years. I always prided myself on looking at alternative candidates with an open mind. But then, I’ve always been a little contrary by nature.
I find this policy really horrifying. Especially during the recession. It seems like a stupid random idea from years ago that nobody every thought through and companies just follow blindly. I would say who wants to work for a company that dumb, but unfortunately HR and recruiters don’t necessarily reflect the company itself. Our company has a policy of not providing references so they won’t get sued if they give a bad one. They will only confirm employment. I’ve been here over 18 years. How the hell do I get a reference then? From employees who have left the company already. Who of course will be more trustworthy references right? Right? Sheesh.
I will be happy to give you a good reference if you ever need one. The fact that we never worked together is something I’ll just have to finesse.
Wow. This is truly amazing that a recruiter didn’t have enough finesse to provide other reasons why you wouldn’t be considered. We’ve all heard it’s easier to get a new job if you are currently employed….but to have it verbalized by this recruiter makes it sound as though it SHOULD be illegal. They are profiling!!!! We all know that you, Judy, do not fit any profile and would be an asset to any company! Even a record store!!! LOL!!!!
If only there were still record stores to work at!
Living in NJ, I’ve heard about the proposed legislation. Perhaps you should list this period as “Marketing Consultant (self-employed)” and mention a few of the projects you’ve worked on?
Yes, if I decide to actively look for a full-time job, I’ll do that. For now, I’d rather complain.
You might listen to this story from NPR:
and then contact the people cited, who are working on passing this anti-discrimination law, if only to give them your story. And then maybe run for President as a Republican. They need a smart woman with a quick mind. (I’d love to see you debate Newt! 😉
Good golly, Candace, a Republican? Have you been drinking? Besides, you’re the political one. You run, I’ll jog behind you.