Discrimination against the unemployed

Steve Pruneau
Itmann Company Store, Itmann, West Virginia
Itmann Company Store, source: Wikipedia

Several news stories have appeared highlighting the apparent practice by some hiring managers and recruiters that anyone who has been unemployed more than an arbitrary number of months, will not advance in the interview process.  Other companies may be more blatant, only recruiting those who are currently employed.

This behavior is infuriating.  It feels as though, in a society of scarce jobs, the unemployed are getting herded into economic oblivion.  Nevertheless, I don’t think we can shame or regulate corporate recruiters into change, to stop discrimination against the unemployed.

The response I prefer is to break the cycle of dependency:

1) We need a company that doesn’t terminate our employment relationship just because we are between jobs.  I don’t have gaps in my employment because Free Agent Source continues to be my employer, so it’s just another check-box in the interview process.  Of course many contractors and solo entrepreneurs accomplish this by forming their own corporation or LLC.

2) Break the cycle of dependency by separating our source of medical insurance and 401(k) retirement plan, from our source of work and pay.  This not only sets us free, it puts us in a better negotiating position.  Now the interview is reduced to a discussion about work for pay.  No more talk about “joining the corporate family”, no more talk about company benefits.  It’s truly at-will employment, which makes us more credible as potential hires.

Steve Pruneau leads executives and business owners to solve the gap between variable revenue and a fixed workforce. He is the first consultant at Free Agent Source. As a founder, Steve engages the broader community of corporate clients, entrepreneurs, startups and consultants. He manages company operations and lives in Los Angeles, CA.