by Nina Merklina, Co-founder, LineHire
Unfortunately, the hiring process is often filled with all sorts of bias, whether the employer realizes it or not. It varies from industry to industry and location. But there is one common bias which is especially prevalent and harmful:
Filtering out candidates that are currently unemployed or have been unemployed for over some number of months. Some companies go even farther and also filter out freelancers!
Just a few days ago, I witnessed a group of HR leaders discussing techniques to find candidates on LinkedIn and some of them stated that when they are invited to connect by someone who has “open for a new opportunity” status, they definitely decline or ignore such contact request.
Here is the rationale behind this dubious practice: the strong professional is always in high demand and will not be out of a job for long. Current employment is a validating point. If he or she is wanted somewhere else, we may want him or her too. Freelancers are seen as a bit more creative unemployed people and are often disregarded as well.
I am amazed (although not surprised) that this practice still exists; this attitude is wrong on so many levels that I don’t even know where to start. Putting aside the ethical and legal part of this, it is simply unwise to blindly reject candidates on this issue alone. You may miss out on some amazing talent. Life happens. There is an endless list of circumstances why someone may be actively looking for work. Especially in today’s changing work environment were remote and independent work have become the norm.
Since it is almost impossible to call someone on this practice, here is a small bit of advice I can give to fight this bias:
- Start with yourself. If you are the one convinced that all active job seekers are not good for you, think twice. Anyone, including you, can end up without a job and with a number of difficult life circumstances at hand. Treat job seekers as you would want to be treated yourself.
- Passive candidates are not always preferable. They can drop out of the recruiting process any time, they often leverage promotions with the external offers and so on. The key is to always have a mix of active and passive candidates in your pool.
- If all of the resume is good, but the latest 6 months without the job look suspicious to you, don’t just discard. Check in with the candidate, even if the pile of resumes you have is mile high. A good match in experience soft skills trumps up weird circumstances.
- The rule of thumb: don’t look for the reasons to NOT consider a candidate. Don’t be lazy. Look for the reasons to check and often to double check. The best recruiters are the diligent ones.
- Speak up. If it is your management that has the bias it is good to have a conversation with them. Have your facts, stats and proofs at hand. It is the right thing to do. The title “equal opportunity employer” is there for a reason and should not be taken as just as a boilerplate disclaimer.
Here at LineHire we find it important that the candidates that are presented to our clients are not only qualified, but also interested in discussing a particular opportunity. It saves time for the internal recruiter or hiring manager. Nothing is more frustrating to a recruiter than a list of 5 awesome candidates none of which is interested in your position at all.
A much better screen is to ask your prospective candidate: On a scale of 1 to 5 – how available are you to take an offer from another company? Where ‘1 – I am sitting tight’ and ‘5 – get me out of here’. If the answer is anything but 1, there is a way to work with this candidate.
It is surprising how many times recruiters forget to ask this question to only learn that the candidate decided not to pursue because the big bonus was pending.
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