SHRM: Effective Hiring Practices Don’t Include Barring the Unemployed

Feb 16, 2011
Fernan Cepero
Fernán R. Cepero, PHR

Society tells EEOC it is unaware of widespread recruiting trends that exclude people without jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a meeting today of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) said it was unaware of widespread recruiting practices that discriminate against the unemployed.

“Employers, in SHRM’s experience, … are focused on finding the right people for the job, regardless of whether or not they are currently employed,” Fernán R. Cepero, PHR, vice president human resources of the YMCA of Greater Rochester, N.Y., told the commission.

Testifying on behalf of SHRM — the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management — Cepero said human-resource professionals recognize that a blanket exclusion of the unemployed among candidates being considered for job openings raises concerns under federal law that prohibits employment discrimination. “What’s more,” he added, “exclusionary policies are poor business practices because they prevent organizations from accessing some of the best available knowledge, skills and abilities in a given labor force.”

The 250,000-member SHRM was invited by the commission to testify at the meeting, called to learn more about the practice of excluding the unemployed from consideration for job openings. The unemployed are not among those protected by employment law.

During his testimony, Cepero, state director of the New York State Society for Human Resource Management who has extensive experience in recruiting, outlined best practices for hiring — from developing a recruitment plan to making offers and closing the deal. He noted that SHRM hosts an annual Talent & Staffing Management Conference & Exposition, this year to be held April 11-13 in San Diego.

Citing SHRM’s Leading Indicators of National Employment survey, Cepero told commissioners that the labor market is forecasted to add jobs in manufacturing and services this month. February’s LINE Employment Report showed an increase in job vacancies and recruiting difficulty that suggested employers might be having trouble filling key positions. “The ongoing post-recession rise in productivity could mean that employers are relying more on fewer employees who have higher skills,” he said.

But, he said, “in SHRM’s experience, screening out the unemployed is not an effective practice.”

While acknowledging that candidates who have been out of the workforce for a time might have skills that are stale or obsolete compared with a candidate whose skills are fresh, he said: “In addition to looking at work experience, skill sets, professionalism, passion for the job, and other factors, SHRM encourages its members to make specific efforts to target and hire from diverse groups of candidates.”

For more information, contact Kate Kennedy of SHRM Media Affairs at 703-535-6260 and or Jennifer Hughes at 703-535-6072 and

About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at or follow SHRM at


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