Executive Careers Blog

Out Of Work And Now Out Of Luck?


Do you remember when singer Rod Stewart, in his trademark rasp, sang "Some Guys Have All the Luck?"

That phrase rings even truer in some business circles these days.

The news media has reported that more than a few companies in search of key personnel haven't bothered to check out the growing pool of jobless execs.

No, they'd rather spend time -- and significant effort -- to lure away someone who may not even be looking, thinking that he or she is especially worthy if still working. The Wall Street Journal quoted the CEOof a tech consulting firm who said, "If they're still employed that means they have some significant value," and two executive recruiters agreed that "more clients recently have indicated that they would prefer to fill positions with 'passive candidates'."

These decision makers are doing a great disservice to at least part of the available workforce. They seem to forget (don't care?) that many thousands of quite accomplished nonemployees have been let go through no fault of their own, the victims of onerous budget cuts, massive restructuring that wiped out whole departments, or other cruel tricks of the failing economy. In many cases, those events were set in motion by their peers in the executive suite; often, the verdict on who to dump was arrived at only after much deliberation and with sadness.

Such a policy isn't only short-sighted, but also managerially (fiscally?) irresponsible. With many corporate budgets as lean as can be, is it really prudent to expend extra cash and/or costly benefits on a hire when, sad to say, there are those who could be snapped up for much less? Plus, such measures, if they're common knowledge, make hiring executives look a bit cold -- and with public perception accounting for a big aspect of customer loyalty, that could really hit a company where it hurts. So, when filling that job opening, don't consider someone who has suffered a layoff because you feel sorry for him or her; think about it because it makes sense to do so.

After all, chief executives and senior staffers, despite the supposed easing of corporate layoffs, it could be you out on the street next. It'll hurt to be summarily dismissed when you try to secure your next position, but you'll bounce back, somehow.

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Todd Obolsky has covered a wide range of industries for Vault’s print and online company profiles (including consumer products, government and non-profit, retail, advertising, internet, energy and publishing) and manages Vault’s Layoff Tracker. He has also written for the Rough Guides and DK travel series. He holds a BS in Mathematics from Bucknell University and a MBA with a market research concentration from City University of New York’s Baruch College. Comments?  Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com