Stupid Reasons for Not Hiring: Issue 2 – Unemployed

This is the second in what I hope will be an ongoing series about stupid reasons employers give for not hiring someone. The first dealt with being too attractive. Based on the Comment of a reader, the next will deal with being too smart. If you have an example of a stupid reason for not hiring someone, please share it as a Comment and I may write about it. As I mentioned in the first article, I am interested in stupid reasons, not illegal ones.

“It is easier to get a job when you have a job.” That statement has always been very popular. With the downturn in 2008, it lost some of its popularity. Sadly, it’s coming back.

I understand the logic behind the policy: If the person was any good they would be employed. It may be logical, but it is also wrong.

I’m not talking here about someone who stole from their previous employer, or lied, or did any other actionable act which rightly resulted in their being fired. That is understandable, although I must say, I have secured positions for two persons who had been fired for cause. They handled it the correct way and were able to overcome what was an unfortunate lapse in judgment.

For present purposes, I am talking about someone who was laid off. In other words, they did not lose their job because of something they did, but despite what they did. They were good at their job but their job was eliminated because of a restructuring. Or, the company lost a major client or, in the case of non-profits, a major funding source, and their employer had to cut costs.

In this scenario, an employer would be crazy not to consider an unemployed candidate, for a number of reasons:

First, they need the job and will have salary demands lower than someone who is employed. (I am assuming that they are as qualified, or more qualified, than other candidates.)

Second, they will be more appreciative of the job offer. They are scared and you have eliminated their fear. This could result in long-term loyalty.

Third, they can start work immediately. No need to wait two, three or four weeks.

Not hiring someone qualified, simply because they are unemployed through no fault of their own is, in my opinion, stupid. But it also might be illegal, depending on where you live.


Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 350,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website,, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements. Follow him on Twitter at @HurwitzStaffing.