Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Is "Employed Applicants Only" unfair?

Reason.com reports that Kelly Wiedemer has been unemployed all too long. But she is still active.

Kelly is suing Monster.com, the massive job listing site. Kelly is incensed that Monster.com accepts ads stating "unemployed need not apply" or "current employment required", or any variation.

When looking at the vasty number of people that President Obama's socialist policies have made unemployed, and kept them that way, it might appear that getting those "discouraged" people (not employed, but been that way the government doesn't have to count them in the unemployment numbers) should get hired right away, that will solve one of the nation's problems.

I don't see this blatant affirmative action as helping anyone, except maybe Kelly W.

Affirmative action has always hurt, hindered, encumbered, disenfranchised, and held back those that are targeted.

Think of it this way. A company hires people to do a certain amount of production, that is, processing materials to construct something with more value than cost. Getting competent people skilled in the production that the company operates is one way. And employers screen applicants for employment. They want to know that the person has a history of responsible behavior, has whatever knowledge and skills are claimed on the application, and has a certain amount of character and discipline at work -- shows up when expected, every time, keeps personal problems in perspective and out of the work place (within reason), gets the task done without constant close supervision, and works well with others.

Many times an employer takes a chance on a prospect that looks trainable. The character and discipline seem solid and dependable, and experience in related tasks seems to indicate the applicant would make the transition fairly easily. The risk is that it will take days to months -- or longer -- to determine if this applicant actually fits the need, once trained and worked into the company production stream. This is a cost of doing business. The more failed attempts a company makes, the more reputation for "difficult" practices grows among applicants and the industries that live off job applicants -- head hunters, state job services, resume services, etc.

My concern about hiring someone that has been unemployed long term is exactly the same as hiring a homeless person. They have had to adapt to a foreign environment. Just like going to college changes a person, it makes them unsuitable for certain jobs. Trust me, there are many jobs in Ponca City, OK, that will *not* hire anyone that has been to college. Supervisors used to high school graduates don't want the challenges, questions, attitudes, and perspectives of those that have been to college.

Long term unemployment means that work references are out of date. The previous supervisor may be unavailable, the business may not exist any longer, and getting a reliable feel for the long-term unemployed applicant becomes a serious problem.

Next is that unemployment insurance requires one to live according to unemployment insurance rules. The supervision, expectations, team environment -- all are unlike any company production stream. And the long-term unemployed applicant has been training and meeting the expectations of the unemployment insurance lifestyle instead of working related work.

Long-term unemployed often develop changed perspectives and tasks at home; reverting to a typical "leave the home life at home" work ethic may well be difficult, for both the worker and family members. This has the potential to cost an employer a lot, depending on how many interruptions for home issues occur each day.

An employer owes it to the company owners or stock holders to screen applicants fairly, to employ the best applicants for each position, to do a responsible job of screening out costly mistakes.

I feel employers are being responsible when they advertise "employed applicants only". This is not a new policy, because the previous work history is always scrutinized for gaps in related employment. Gaps in employment often indicate potential problems for the employer.

Employers cannot afford to overlook people afflicted with despair and depression, long term. They cannot afford the health benefits to cover applicants with pre-existing problems.

Long-term unemployment is an injury to a person, not a genetic or social barrier. What is needed is not to handicap, permanently, those hired under affirmative action. What is needed is a rehabilitation mechanism. A doctor's affidavit that applicant X has been treated and examined, and is fit to go back to work.

And ultimately, the profit a company makes, the employee costs they minimize, results in the ability to hire and train employees. Increase costs without increased productivity (i.e., profit), and the company cannot afford to employ as many people -- less hiring, more employees laid off.

Reducing the number of employees, and reducing productivity has been the common effect of affirmative action. Such efforts at social engineering are ineffective or destructive to employer and employed.

How about that, Kelly Wiedener? How about working with employers to devise a re-employment certificate that employers can rely on (not just imposed by the state, or even well-meaning affirmative action activists) that covers the unemployed period, the reasons for the unemployment, what workplace discipline and skills are exhibited, long term, and a responsible supervisor that can be contacted, and trusted to give a responsible evaluation of the applicant?

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