ORLANDO, Fla. – The message was hard to comprehend.

Posted on an online job board run by a Lake Mary, Fla., company, it advertised a position with Sony Ericsson in Atlanta. But it had a strange twist.

If you’re jobless, the ad said, don’t apply.

“Candidates MUST be currently working for an original consumer electronics manufacturer in marketing,” said the job listing. “NO EXCEPTIONS.”

The language was even stronger in an earlier version of the post. It included this sentence: “No unemployed candidates will be considered at all.”

The item, an ad for a marketing communications and public-relations chief, was posted by The People Place, which recruits for aerospace, engineering and telecommunications companies. It went up last week and soon set off a small brush fire on employment message boards.

“OMG,” wrote Stuart James of Altamonte Springs, Fla. “Unbelievable.”

Roger Lear, founder of OrlandoJobs.com, has been a recruiter for 23 years and had never seen an ad that excluded the unemployed.

“In this economy,” he said, “it’s absolutely ludicrous to even think about not hiring the unemployed.”

Lear said he was not aware of any law prohibiting companies from excluding candidates based on their employment status, but he said it doesn’t make business sense to do so. In this recession, scores of talented people were let go simply because a firm collapsed or a department was eliminated.

Many of today’s jobless are mid-career professionals desperate to get back into the work force. A company that excludes those workers is missing an opportunity, he said.

“Often, someone’s who’s unemployed or underemployed is a top candidate,” Lear said. “They probably don’t cost as much, there’s no conflict over what to do about their current job, and they’re thankful to get back onto their career path.”

On Wednesday, a Sony Ericsson spokeswoman said the wording of the ad — in both versions — was a “misunderstanding.” Stacy Doster blamed the job recruitment site, saying Sony Ericsson told The People Place it was receiving a heavy load of applicants who were unemployed.

Doster said Sony Ericsson wanted to ensure it also reached potential candidates who had jobs. It told the recruiter to get some of those folks into the mix.

The recruiter, Doster said, apparently misunderstood, adding language excluding people who were out of work. Doster provided a link to the company’s ad on CareerBuilder.com that does not include similar wording.

“That was not our language,” Doster said. She called the post a “mistake,” saying, “This has gotten out of hand.”

The People Place did not respond to calls seeking comment.


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