Huffpost Business
Laura Bassett Headshot

Employers Continue to Discriminate Against Jobless, Think 'The Best People Are Already Working'

Posted: Updated:

The number of Americans who have been out of a job for a year or longer has reached a record 4.4 million, roughly equal to the population of Louisiana, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The grim numbers may partially be attributed to the fact that employers are still openly discriminating against the unemployed--especially the longterm unemployed-- when deciding who to hire.

A surprising number of Craigslist job ads are automatically disqualifying the long-term jobless by including the stipulations, "Must be currently employed," "No unemployed candidates will be considered," or "must have been employed within the last 6 months." Other job postings specify that if an applicant is recently unemployed, he or she should include a "good reason" for his or her layoff along with a resumé.

Reeve Zimmerman, a hospitality management recruiter for Goodwin and Associates, is currently hiring an associate manager for a major corporate chain restaurant in Kingman, Arizona. He posted an ad on Craigslist for the job for currently employed candidates only because he said the companies he represents often prefer the safety of candidates who haven't lost their jobs, and it saves them from having to have to sort through the reasons an applicant is unemployed.

"Some companies think that the best people are already working," he told HuffPost. "Maybe the ones looking for jobs for some reason had a problem, or were let go for a reason, or quit for a reason, but the people companies want are the type that already have a job."

Tim Brigham, the hiring manager for American Nationwide Mortgage Company in Chicago, said he would accept a recently unemployed candidate with the right amount of experience, but he usually targets job ads at employed people because it ensures that they are up to date on the ins and outs of the mortgage industry.

"You have to understand the current environment we're in," Brigham said. "There's so much in the mortgage business that has changed as of late. I didn't want people to apply who had no idea how to be a processor."

While employers are target-shooting for people who already have jobs, the longterm jobless, many of whom were part of company-wide layoffs through no fault of their own, are banging their heads against a wall, sending out hundreds of resumés a month and wondering why they never hear anything back.

"For the last year, I have applied for jobs nearly every single day, including weekends," wrote Robert Wear, 38, who was laid off in June 2009 from a company he had worked at for 15 years. "In this time I have only been called for two interviews. You'd practically have a better chance of winning the lottery than landing a job these days."

Have you been unemployed for a year or longer? How do you cope? Send your stories to LBassett@huffingtonpost.com.