The New York Times ran a front-page story and a series of editorials this week about how employers favor those already employed over those not working when making hiring decisions. The story noted that a number of employers are under fire for advertising that only employed workers were eligible to apply for their vacancies and that New Jersey recently passed legislation to prohibit the practice. The moral of the story would seem to be to get a job so that you can get a job and that lesson may not be as absurd as it sounds.
The last time I was unemployed was nearly 30 years ago when I lost my job as the executive director of a nonprofit organization. My employer ran out of money due to the loss of state funding during a serious recession, and I had a growing family to support. I collected unemployment insurance while looking for work and took care of my young children plus my nephew and my former secretary’s son for several months. It was a great learning experience, but a difficult time. I was eventually offered a low-paying job by a friend that actually reduced our net household income by several hundred dollars a month, and I accepted it. The work turned out to be interesting, and I ended up staying there for five years while I went back to school for a graduate degree.
The combination of my wife’s job as a school secretary and my work as a concrete inspector and building lab tech plus the G.I. Bill allowed me to finish school and provided me with the foundation to build a career. My education, combined with a good work record, helped me obtain my first job as a city manager. I doubt that I would have been hired for that job if I had been unemployed when I applied.
I hope and believe the City of Albany gives fair consideration to all who apply to work here, regardless of their current employment status. We have a need for a more diverse workforce that could be difficult to meet if we were to limit ourselves to candidates who are employed in another organization.
My thoughts on searching for a job were inspired by my own recent decision to compete for the position of Chief Operating Officer at Metro in Portland. I am not actively looking to leave Albany, but this opportunity is a good fit for my family for a number of reasons. I have been selected to be one of four finalists for the job and will interview with the organization within the next two weeks. Regardless of the outcome, I continue to believe the City of Albany is a great place to work and my life has been blessed by the opportunity to work here.