Category Archives: Employment discrimination

Shelf life

“Once you’re unemployed more than six months, you’re considered pretty much unemployable. We assume that other people have already passed you over, so we don’t want anything to do with you.” –Cynthia Shapiro, former human resources executive and author of Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know

The above is excerpted from an April 2011 Reader’s Digest Magazine article, “What HR Won’t Tell You About Your Resume.”

So, it appears, my shelf life is about to expire; I’m nearing the six-month mark. It’s depressing news, but, like the alleged statistics claiming “a woman over 40 has a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than getting married,” some rumors are not true, or are exaggerated. (I met my husband when I was 42 — so there.)

The woman making the above statement is only one HR person. Others, like those quoted in this CNN article, say that in this economy you don’t need to worry until at least nine months.

Still, it does seem to be a disturbing trend. “Job-placement professionals say that over the last year, more and more employers have made it clear they won’t consider job candidates who aren’t working. ‘A lot of our recruiters have had clients who have come across this,’ Matt Deutsch of, which brings recruiters together to collaborate in finding jobs for candidates, told (Yahoo blog) The Lookout (February 2011), calling the practice ‘unfortunate.'”

The Lookout article continues: “Some employers have said they’re unwilling to hire unemployed workers because they believe that if a worker has once been let go, that’s a sign that he or she is probably not a great hire. ‘People who are currently employed … are the kind of people you want as opposed to people who get cut,’ one recruiter told the Atlanta Journal Constitution in October.”

I continue to be positive and believe that if one personnel director won’t look at anyone who’s been out of work for six months, there’s another one who will say, “We need the right person for the job.”

When I look at my qualifications — editing, writing, public speaking, extensive computer experience — I know that there are a lot of other people with those skills out there, and I really don’t know how to convince an employer that I’m the best person, beyond editing tests and references. Usually I go into an interview acting confident, friendly and professional and hope I click with the right person. All other things being equal, if someone likes me it may be the edge I need.

I try not to think about the statistics and the trends. Maybe I’m whistling in the dark, but there’s not much else I can do.