As if finding a job weren’t difficult enough in this environment, the WSJ report on the trend of businesses who will only hire people currently employed, in part on the belief that anyone while still has a job must be “first string”
The bias extends from front-line workers to senior managers. Charlie Wilgus, managing partner of executive search for Lucas Group, based in Atlanta, says a manufacturing client looking for a division president recently refused to consider a former divisional president at Newell Rubbermaid Inc. whose department had been eliminated. The client doesn’t want candidates who have been laid off, Mr. Wilgus says.
Employers’ preference for the employed adds another hurdle for those who have been laid off. Job seekers frequently are competing with dozens of other applicants for the few available positions.
Bobby Fitzgerald, a partner in five restaurants in three states, says these days he gets two dozen or more unsolicited résumés each day at one of his Phoenix restaurants, the White Chocolate Grill. But Mr. Fitzgerald says his top candidates, for jobs from servers to management, usually are people who are employed elsewhere. He currently has 50 openings across his five restaurants and has told recruiters to bring in only people who are working.
This kind of sounds like the dating market, and that certain class of person who specifically goes after people who are “taken” on the grounds that they must be of higher quality than anyone who’s available. It’s very efficient markets.
But while the desire for first stringers makes sense, this strategy ignores current market realities. People are getting laid off for all sorts of reason including issues of seniority, the collapse of certain industries and the like. In an economic crisis, you’d expect firing to be particularly inefficient, meaning the stock of unemployed talent is large.
Besides, this strategy of poaching employees from elsewhere, and avoiding unsolicited applicants is hardly new, though again, it makes more sense in an environment with an efficient job market, where you can really presume that the employed are of a higher calibre than job seekers.
On the other hand, anytime someone jumps from one job to another, that theoretically creates a new position, so on net, it may be that the overall picture doesn’t change much.
Only the employed may apply? It’s a good story, but it doesn’t quite add up to much.