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.