It has never made sense to me when a company makes this part of their hiring criteria. As a recruiter, this is a simple way to eliminate motivated top talent and shrink an already competitive talent pool. I am not saying that every unemployed sales person has a compelling story but they all deserve a chance to explain themselves.
A qualified candidate was laid off due to an acquisition and you do not want to consider him?!
A great candidate was let go because her company got a new VP who is bringing in their own people – not interested?!
A top producing candidate left her last role because her company changed her compensation plan and was going to make 40% less than last year – you are going to take a hard pass?!!
A president club achiever was working within a very regimented environment making it impossible to search for a new role resigned so he could focus on his job search – nope?!!
My point is, everyone has a story, and to eliminate a candidate simply because they are not working is a great way to miss out on great talent and motivated top talent. I educate my clients on this and the typical responses are:
If they were any good, the acquiring company would have held onto him – you don’t lay off top talent.
If they were a producer, that new VP would want to keep her on the team.
If she was as good as you say, she would have figured out a way to make money with the new comp plan.
If they are serious about their career, they would have figured out a way to interview while keeping their job.
These are all fair points, it would be stubborn of me to say otherwise – but there are no blanket truths in any of this and you should not look at talent through one lens. Instead, you should take time to hear a candidate’s story and see if you are compelled by it.
I have worked with plenty of companies who will lay off top producing sales talent…it is not uncommon for me to get a call from a VP who had to lay off the top 30% of his team to increase margin and he wants me to help his recently laid off sales people find a new sales role. Nor is it uncommon for a good sales person to understand their worth and move on from a company to focus on the search. Only GOOD SALES people can afford to do this.
If your company employs this practice to not consider unemployed candidates, it is my professional opinion to consider changing it. You will find by opening yourself up, you will meet hard working and driven sales professionals. If you would like to learn more about different ways to open up your search to find the best of the best in motivated top talent, do not hesitate to reach out.