So if I needed any reassurance on Saturday that my most excellent birthday was over and that life was gonna revert to its usual shittiness, I got it in the form of two stories I read on Huffington.
The first one was no surprise: The number of people out of work six months or longer now makes up 46 percent of the total of unemployed Americans, and should reach half by summer’s end. So much for economic stimulus.
The second one was equal parts shocking, saddening, anxiety-raising and just plain enraging:
Now we’re hearing that some companies are refusing to even consider hiring unemployed workers.
What the fuck?!?
Until then, I thought nothing last week could be more outrageous than the insensitive asshole who runs BP whining “I’d like my life back.” (Yeah, so would the 11 guys who died on your unsafe, corner-cutting rig, their loved ones, the thousands of animals and plants that have perished so far, the thousands of fishermen who might have lost their livelihoods for good, the tourism industry, the region that might very well have lost its ecosystem forever … but all of that, of course, trifles compared to the perils of poor little Tony …)
But here it was, in black and white: Some companies refuse to even look at a resume from someone who’s unemployed.
Two electronics firms in Texas recently posted engineering positions on a jobs website with the same note at the end: “Client will not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason.” And Sony Ericsson, hiring workers for a new plant in Georgia recently, included the line “NO UNEMPLOYED CANDIDATES WILL BE CONSIDERED AT ALL.”
And it’s not just high-tech jobs. I haven’t seen such wording yet in ads for my fields of interest (writing/editing/Web), but according to the HuffPost story, it even applied to a craigslist ad seeking assistant restaurant managers in Jersey. (Jersey!)
Did we step through the looking glass or something? We won’t give you a job because you don’t have a job? Did we all wake up one morning and take the brown acid?
So now we’ve entered another new, exquisite, twisted, Catch-22ish form of job discrimination. In a country where many women still tilt at glass ceilings, and discrimination against age, sexual identity and gender identity are still very anecdotal if not documentable, now we have to worry about job status, too?
Jesus. This economy is truly bringing out the worst in people. (Actually, it was the worst in people — namely, the wanton greedy who didn’t have enough millions already — who brought about the economy. Which has brought out even more of the worst in people.) If we haven’t been beaten up enough already by stories of companies shedding good, loyal and capable workers because they weren’t generating enough profit to satisfy the scumbags of Wall Street, or too-many-to-be-hearsay tales of experienced, highly skilled workers being passed over for younger and dumber kids willing to work for scraps … well, this, I think, we’ve finally hit a moral rock bottom.
The people who most need work are being denied work. Can anyone tell me where in a sane world this makes a shred of sense?
A spokesman for Benchmark Electronics of Angleton, Texas, one of the companies that posted the above-mentioned no-unemployed ads, confirmed his company’s policy to HuffPost’s Laura Bassett:
“We typically go after people that are happy where they are and then tell them about the opportunities here. We do get a lot of applications blindly from people who are currently unemployed — with the economy being what it is, we’ve had a lot of people contact us that don’t have the skill sets we want, so we try to minimize the amount of time we spent on that and try to rifle-shoot the folks we’re interested in.”
Number one: People usually change jobs because they’re NOT happy where they are, not because they ARE happy. Number two: Let’s reverse the order here. The real primary reason, which was PR-weasel-spun down to No. 2 — is that companies don’t want to deal with a zillion resumes from unqualified people. To a point, that’s understandable. And with an average of 5.5 people seeking each job, according to the most recent Labor Department stats, some of the more desperate of us will throw resumes everywhere, which can be a headache for any HR department.
So … the best solution is to throw everyone out with the bathwater? Deny ‘em all; let God sort ‘em out? Pass over a talented worker who could be a key to your future success simply because (s)he doesn’t have a job right now? Someone whose ideas and efforts could possibly spur your company’s growth and help shape an industry?
Yeah. Real smart. I’m sure they taught that in your MBA program.
The part that really hurts and pisses me off is the “regardless of the reason” part.
Excuse me, but this whole mess wasn’t our goddamn faults. We weren’t up in the boardrooms, making the shortsighted, shark-feeding decisions that led to the near-collapse of the economy. We didn’t put our companies in peril by our choices. But here we are, many of us out on the streets for something we didn’t create. And most of the people who’ve made these decisions still have their jobs and their Mercedes and their foreign vacations and their multimillion-dollar homes. (And their summer homes, too.) And now some of these corporate execs are the ones saying “We don’t want you” because we’ve been thrown out of jobs?
I’d like to think that there are still companies and leaders and other executives in the world with a shred of decency and a sliver of heart. People who are smart enough to know that there’s a whole fish-in-a-barrel pool of excellent talent out there just waiting to be plucked from the water. People whose efforts could really help jump-start the economy if they’re given the chance. I’d like to think that the companies mentioned in Huffington are still the exception rather than the rule.
I know in my lines of work, I still have a lot of qualities that make me desirable — even more than I was when I was still employed. My skills haven’t eroded; in fact they’ve improved. I still write most days (that’ll never go away), I edit, I’ve sharpened my blogging and social media skills, and I keep up closely with what’s going on in the world. And I still hold out hope that someone will see my skills and say “Hey, where’ve you been all my life?” and not “I’m sorry; we can’t consider you unless you have a job.”
I’m doing my damndest to stay optimistic. After all, I do have bites on two jobs at the moment, and unemployment doesn’t seem to be an obstacle to either one. But nothing is certain until it’s certain, and the only thing that’s certain right now is that it will be 15 months out of work this Friday and I don’t know how much more of this I can deal with. My unemployment and COBRA should be gone by summer’s end. I could be out on some street somewhere by year’s end.
And hearing stories like these two HuffPosts sure as hell doesn’t make me feel any better.