Career Advice: Teaching People to Grovel?

I got one of those Google News Alerts that tells me when a new column of mine (something I wrote or was quoted in) appears online. This Alert took me to a column sharing advice for job-seekers who are new to LinkedIn. Fair enough.

I got halfway down the column before I saw the piece of advice that directs job-seekers not to let hiring managers know they're job-seeking. Some employers don't like to consider non-working job-seekers.

There've been a spate of news articles about this topic lately. If an employer sees that a job-seeker isn't currently employed, the job-seeker isn't considered for employment at those companies.

What the heck?

I was shocked. I can understand news stories informing the public that certain employers have stooped to shunning people because they've been RIFfed from a job somewhere else.

But career advisors, telling people to go along with the scam and pretend they're working, when they're not, to become more acceptable to these disgusting, immoral hiring authorities?

What is job-search advice, anyway? Is it a matter of telling people to grovel, to crawl over broken glass, to contort themselves into pretzel shapes and bow and scrape til their knees are bloody, just to get a job?

If it's going to be like that, why don't we career advisors throw in the towel and tell everyone to go get a job greeting shoppers at Wal-mart? What is the point of job-search advice if our role is to counsel people on how to be more sheeplike and grovelly?

How can we tell job-seekers to hide their unemployed status, so that certain employers won't know they're not working? I'm sorry, but that's horrible advice, for several reasons:

  • If you're not working, an employer is going to find out. Hiding your not-working status on LinkedIn isn't going to make any difference. When they ask you on the phone or in a face-to-face interview, "Are you working?" what are you going to say?
  • If an organization hates the idea of hiring a candidate just because he or she isn't working, do you really want to work there? What can we say about an employer like that, except that they're cruel, capricious, and stunningly insensitive to the financial havoc going on around them? Are these the places career advisors choose to send talented people to find work?
  • Why do people keep enabling unethical, badly-managed employers when they behave like swine?

    Nothing is going to change the prevailing view (employers are titans, and job candidates are insects) unless smart people refuse to go along with the charade. That is already happening, thank goodness. Three-quarters of the entrepreneurs and consultants I know are former corporate types (me included) who just said no one day. And among my friends in corporate America, almost every one is resetting boundaries this year. Sometimes it takes a crippling recession to remind you what's important, and to shock you into a new awareness of just how out-of-whack our relationships with our jobs have so often become.

    I don't want you to grovel and beg on your job search. I want you to stand in your power and be yourself at every instant. I don't want you to try to fool employers into thinking you're working, when you're not. Who wants to get a job on false pretenses, by pretending that it's moral or ethical to refuse to hire people because they had the bad judgment to get laid off?

    If we aren't counseling people to be themselves on a job search, what is the point of career advice?