Wednesday, 9 June 2010

HR: How can you be so stupid?

There are times, my fellow HR Professionals (and I use the term lightly) when I am ashamed to be counted as one of your number.

A job advert recently appeared (in the USA, it has to be said...) which stated that job applications would not be accepted from anyone who was not currently in employment . The precise words were: “Client will not consider/review anyone not currently employed regardless of the reason.”

Far from condemn such an evidently crass and divisive approach, at least one member of the HR community stated that such an approach was really no big deal and in fact probably had much to recommend it, particularly as the unemployed do have an annoying habit of applying for a large number of jobs, some of which they may be not entirely suitable or eligible for. This thus adds to the administrative burden of those involved in the shortlisting and selection process.

Unemployed? Then Don't Bother Applying

Admittedly, the HR "professional" goes on to offer some highly strategic advice to the unemployed ("Keep busy", "Network, network, network" and (I jest not, dear readers!) "Don’t answer the phone if you were asleep when it started ringing."

But. My stars! How can the "no applications from the unemployed" approach be endorsed in any shape or form?

Or perhaps we should embrace this strategy by requiring the unemployed to wear sackcloth and ashes, and walk around leper-like, ringing a bell so that there is no danger of them contaminating the master-race of the employed?

Or perhaps we should even encourage them to end their miserable lives, thereby removing themselves as a burned on the taxpayer? Sorry Dave. I'm going to have to let you go. Here's your termination letter and a cyanide pill. I know you'll do the right thing.

The "only those in employment need apply" approach is clearly based on the utterly fallacious assumption that out-of-work employees contributed to their own unemployment (or possibly even deserved it).

It's not often that the editor of HR Case Studies pleads with his readership, but please, please PLEASE! my fellow HR Professionals (especially those in the UK!): tell me that I'm not alone in finding such an approach utterly abominable?

After all we're called Human Resource Managers. Not Inhuman. Not Inhumane. And hopefully not Stupid.


  1. Graham, you are most definitely not alone!

  2. I'm not that vexed about it to be honest. If people want to take that approach then it reduces competition for the talented people that are currently out of work....and those of us without our heads up our arses will prosper.

    People are stupid. Fact.

  3. I'm with TheHRD, there are a lot of extremely talented people out of work, just waiting for a switched on talented HR manager to discover them!

    The Stupid ones who are so blinkered will probably find themselves out of work in the next couple of years.... what goes around.........

  4. Ouch! Whilst I completely agree that the advert is abominable, we do know that employers can do some fairly senseless things at times. What I find the most shocking part of this is the response of the HR community.

    I have a good friend who is a highly qualified, highly intelligent, generally all round fantastic guy who would be an asset to any organisation. Is he a lay about? No. Does he apply for any job that happens to have the letters H and R in the advert? Most definitely no. Should he be prevented from applying for jobs because he doesn’t have one? Absolutely not.

    Yes trawling through CV’s can be a pain in the proverbial. But the dross comes from the unemployed and the employed alike – it’s just par for the course. But hey, Land of the free, if you want to miss out on some great talent and wait for references and notice periods then go ahead, cut your nose off to spite your face!!!


  5. That's just insane. I'm lucky enough to be going through a hiring frenzy at my work (thank goodness) and assisting HR. If we put this hold out on candidates then we wouldn't have two people right now.

    I would also like to point out that people during hard times are less likely to leap jobs less they lose security. I'd rather have a go-getter who is happy to be working than someone who stalls on an offer because he/she doesn't know if we're financially secure (or worried if we will find out they're crap and dump them after probation).

  6. I so agree, Blogging Insite! In my field the number of qualified posts be advertised are fewer and the number of qualified people out of work is increasing (due to budget cuts, oops sorry, efficiency savings). If we are able to advertise a post externally then there is no way we would want to exclude those who are unemployed. We need to be able to select from a wide a field of candidates. MH