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Employers Prefer to Hire the Already Employed

Hiring Managers Show Preference For Employed Candidates

It never occurred to me that some companies would discriminate between hiring a candidate who is already employed, and one whose status is unemployed. Adding fuel to the frustration of many laid off workers, it appears that more hiring managers are stating a preference for the former.

It's discouraging to learn that some employers only have eyes for passive job seekers. Ryan Ross, a partner at an executive recruiting firm, explains, "If they’re employed in today’s economy, they have to be first string." OK, so I could see how this line of thinking might pertain to top-tier execs who command the highest salaries. But according to The Wall Street Journal, "the bias extends from front-line workers to senior manager." Ouch.

For tips on how to overcome this bias,


Ross indicates that despite the unforgiving economic environment, employers fear that applicants were let go because of poor performance. To help your case for employment, he suggests gathering "strong letters of recommendation from your previous employer, stating that you were laid off for economic reasons and that you are 'eligible for rehire'." If you're unable to get these formal letters, make sure you have solid references from your previous company that are willing to speak with potential employers.

What do you think about the pattern of employers showing preference to candidates who are already employed?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
Spectra Spectra 8 years
This sort of sucks if you have to find a new job because you relocated too. When I had to move to a new city because of my husband's job, I had to find a different job and it was tough to explain why I wasn't currently employed. I think it makes sense in certain situations, but other times I think HR people really need to look at why someone is unemployed.
leslievanhouten leslievanhouten 8 years
totally true. I'm a recruiter and for full time positions, hiring managers want to see people who are currently employed.
bengalspice bengalspice 8 years
i WISH this would apply to me ... because after 13 interviews for an editorial position i STILL haven't been able to land another job ... even when i've been groomed for an editorial assistant position. [btw, i don't work in anything that resembles editorial ... i have a un-creative publishing job] i just found out that i got beat out for the job i really wanted by a recent college grad because the department wanted to work with someone "fresh" ... not someone who already knows the ins and outs of the company. i am PISSED!
brilliance13 brilliance13 8 years
It does make sense however I don't think it's entirely fair as there are extenuating circumstances in each individual case... I work in in Benefits and HR now so I definitely have a differing perspective about this.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
This makes total sense to me, and I don't think it's anything new. To me, if someone is already employed, they don't necessarily have to prove as much that they really want the job. I guess managers just figure that if someone already has work, he or she really wants this specific job, not just any job. It sucks sometimes, but I think it's true.
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