It is amazing how things have changed for job seekers over the years, and now some of the biggest decisions that they have to make is whether and how to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status. The climate around vaccination has become very heated and the situation complicated as employers are trying to work through potential federal government, state, or their own employee mandates.

So, what should a job seeker do when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination? There are three main groups of individuals to explore. The first being the vaccinated, second being those who are eligible for an exemption, and finally, those who are unvaccinated for non-medical or religious exemption reasons.

If you are COVID-19 vaccinated, then you should consider how and when to inform the prospective employer of this fact. It does not matter which of the three vaccines options you selected, as long as you are “fully vaccinated”. This means 14-days have passed since the final shot in the process (2 shots for Pfizer and Moderna and 1 for Johnson and Johnson). Some candidates have chosen the most direct path by placing their vaccination status right in their Cover Letter and/or their Resume. A recent survey done by ResumeBuilder.com indicated that 69% of Hiring Managers are more likely to hire an applicant who is already vaccinated. Another way to inform potential Recruiters or Hiring Managers is to make your vaccination status known on your business Social Media. If you find yourself subject to a phone screen with a Recruiter, then your vaccination status may be one of the qualifying questions that they ask of you. Finally, at the in-person interview, the Hiring Manager could ask you about your vaccination status, or, of course, you could voluntarily work it into the conversation.

There are two main acceptable reasons for an exemption to being COVID-19 vaccinated. You can apply for either a medical or a religious exemption. This application process should occur post-offer and before you start the position. I don’t suggest publicly promoting your lack of vaccination and your need for an exemption, but you should address the situation if asked. I recommend stating, “I have a medical and/or religious reason for not being vaccinated which I would be glad to share with you after an offer is received and accepted.”  Please keep in mind that for a medical exemption, you will need to have your physician sign-off that she/he has recommended that you not receive the vaccination. A religious exemption has to be for a bona fide held belief that can be tied to this vaccination.

If you are unvaccinated (and not exemption eligible) then your job search may require you to do some pre-work research regarding whether a company is open to hiring you. If a company has a policy requiring vaccination or is working to follow pending upcoming federal requirements on vaccination, then you will not be hired if unvaccinated. In addition to an employer voluntarily requiring vaccination is the upcoming January 2022 Federal Contractor and Private Large Employer mandates that currently are in a legal battle. The company will most likely inform you early in the process (probably in the actual posting) of this vaccination mandate. The thought being that you can self-select yourself out if you wish to remain unvaccinated. If you are in this unvaccinated status, then it may serve you best to focus on smaller employers who are less likely to be a federal contractor or won’t meet the proposed 100-employee large employer mandate.

Regardless of your vaccination status, you should make it known that you are fully prepared to abide by any workplace rules involving masking, social distancing, or COVID-19 testing. Employers have enough issues trying to manage the potential federal mandates without having to be concerned about a new hire following the rules.

It has come to this in a job seeker’s search…a primary focus beyond the Cover Letter, Resume, Phone Screen, and Interview is your vaccination status. You can make things much simpler for yourself by receiving one of the three available vaccines, however, it is understandable that there are religious, medical, or other reasons why someone may not want this vaccination. If you are vaccinated, consider making this information well known in order for employers to easily identify this status.

As always, the best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: Joe Stein

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