Job Boards & The Discrimination of Long-Term Unemployed


The NY Times just ran an article titled The Help-Wanted Sign Comes With a Frustrating Asterisk.

Did you read it?

The article highlights the hassle and discrimination faced by many long-term unemployed Americans.

A recent review of job vacancy postings on popular sites like, CareerBuilder and Craigslist revealed hundreds [of online job ads] that said employers would consider (or at least “strongly prefer”) only people currently employed or just recently laid off.

What. The. Heck.

There’s a myth out there that the unemployed are unemployed for a reason. The holy grail of candidates? The passive candidate who’s not looking for a job. He must be the best.

And that’s nonsense.

With 9.2% of Americans out of work — and with 20% of American men collecting unemployment, in prison, on disability, operating in the underground economy, or getting by on the paychecks of wives or girlfriends or parents — it is insulting to think that a job board would accept money in exchange for a discriminatory ad.

Now listen, I know that organizations like, CareerBuilder and Craigslist can’t screen every single ad that comes into their advertising database. (Or can they? That actually seems possible.) But they can make a pledge to remove all postings that discriminate against the long-term unemployed. And in light of the reporting by the NY Times, they can create a special section on their sites and offer specialized and extensive training, tell them about an MBA online, (and high quality career advice) to people who have been unemployed for longer than a year.

That’s a good start.

And to my HR colleagues — I have to ask, where is your spine? I know that you are a cog in the machine. You aren’t empowered to make decisions. Despite all your rage, you’re still just a rat in the cage. But if ever there was a time for HR to grab a seat at the table and be relevant, it’s at the point where you are asked to put an ad on the internet that says you strongly prefer employed candidates.

You can say no.

Or you can just leave that part out. Nobody on your management team will notice.

But hopefully the job boards will step up and refuse to post your discriminatory ‘help wanted ad’ in the future. After all, the long-term unemployed are often the disabled, minorities, and people over the age of 55. And job boards, many of which are publicly traded companies, wouldn’t want to be accused of ableism, racism, or ageism in the mainstream media.


UPDATE: Discriminating Against the Unemployed: What Monster’s Thinking

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