Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Archive for April 2009

Recession + redundancy = reinvention

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For those who missed it,  SBS’s Insight aired a program this week on reinventing oneself (with a focus on work/career) in these interesting times.

Just click the link here to view.

Philosopher Alain De Botton was a guest on the program.  He is one academic that Even It Up! admires and respects for his illuminations on the modern world, particularly his writings on the smoke and mirrors of status, the myth of meritocracy and now, work.  We completely agree with his take on work (below is excerpt from the Insight program):

We’re no longer living in a time where we have no options. All of us feel options and the education system, and the political system is always telling us, ‘go on – try and live your dream.’ (my bold) That in fact causes us great worries a lot of us have dreams, but we think how on earth are we going to get there? We are encouraged often to have more dreams than we are capable of putting into action, and that’s perhaps something else we can talk about, what is a realistic level of dreaming?

In the words of Bruce Springsteen (from the song The River): is a dream a liar if it don’t come true, or is is something worse?  Certainly, we are told from the get go that we can be whatever we want.  We are told that all we need is education, talent, hard work, opportunities and luck, and it will all work out.  We will get to where we want to go.

  • But how many of us have gotten tertiary qualification because we are told “degrees open doors” and found that the door to your chosen profession remains firmly locked?
  • And how many of us haven’t ended up in the job/profession we trained for, the salary we expected, and now have huge student loans to repay?
  • How many of us try to show how talented and smart we are in the workplace, only to be shown the door because “we’ve rocked the boat”?
  • How many of have shown our track record and experience in interviews only to be told we are “impressive, and you would be great for this organisation, but we’ve given the position to someone (less experience and less qualified)”?

Even It Up! believes that many individuals, because of their expectations –  and instilled in them from a young age and backed up by the media – have been set up for failure.

And the process of recruitment just makes things worse, because jobseekers have been led to believe that hiring is about them, their personal brand, and what they bring to the company, not about the company minimising hiring risks.  And so, recruitment is increasingly about selecting people out, not in, because of a few bad (and costly) hiring decisions (and we will be accused of oversimplifying here!).  And these bad hires are made for a number of reasons including:

  • personal agendas
  • groupthink
  • poor recruitment and selection practices
  • poor recommendations
  • weak organisational culture
  • bad management/leadership
  • skills shortage.

Call us old-fashioned, but it’s a case – as always – of the minority of mishires ruining it for the majority of honest jobseekers.  And let use be very clear here: it’s the organisation’s mistake, but the individual jobseeker is being made to pay.


Written by evenitup

April 28, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Suck it up, jobseekers!

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Or that’s what our journalists seem to be saying anyway.

There was article in today’s ‘Tiser (pulled from the CareerOne website) where a Generation Y jobseeker was railing against the stereotypes that were working against her.   Her premise was that she was hardworking, and didn’t expect things to just be handed to her on a silver platter, but was still not given a go.  The Gen Y jobseeker was advised by the journalist that:

…in a tight job market all candidates have to deal with clichéd views – working mums, mature aged workers, new migrants and so on.

…Gen Ys must show they are willing to stick with one job, give their all to tasks they might not enjoy and be prepared to learn the ropes thoroughly before pushing for a promotion. Don’t dwell on whether this is a fair thing for you personally. (my bold)

And this is precisely the thinking that really gets up our noses because, rather than challenging the status quo, the jobseeker is basically told to suck it up.   There is an acknowledgement that it’s not fair, but there is no editorial questioning what can be done about it.

And why would there be?  Recruitment (up until recently) brought in major dollars for both the online and offline world.  Editorialising and interrogating the employment status quo by journalists would, in effect, be biting the hand that feeds them.

According to Adnews “revenue from employment ads, which represent a third of the classifieds market, fell by 12.3% last year”.  Warren Hogan, economist for the ANZ said that ” The number of job ads in March is now a staggering 44.6% lower than a year ago… Newspaper job ads have now fallen by 61% since peaking in November 2007″.

In this environment, it would be even less likely that hiring process would be critiqued.  Newspapers, which have decreasing reader numbers anyway, want to protect whatever income source they have.  According to Roy Morgan Research, Saturday newspapers (more than any other) have experienced the sharpest drop.  And guess where the employment ads are traditionally placed?

No wonder employment journalists are circling the wagons.

Written by evenitup

April 25, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Just for fun

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Even It Up! loves that this ad from Screaming Frog turns the tables on the j0b hunt:

Very clever -yet pointed – stuff!

Written by evenitup

April 25, 2009 at 11:46 am

Spot that fake job ad

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Fake jobs are a real concern for the jobseekers,  and placing one in either an online or mainstream publication is illegal under The Trade Practices Act 1974.  Check our latest Even It Up! media release for our views on the “practice”.  As mentioned in our media release, fake employment ads are lodged by two sources: unscrupulous recruitment companies looking to populate their databases; and unscrupulous “businesses” looking to cash in on freely available  information for identity or property theft, or to make an easy buck.

So how do you spot a fake employment ad?  There are a few dead give-aways:

  1. No details about the organisation or contact person on the ad.
  2. Generic job description (or “cattle call” if a recruitment company).
  3. If an online ad, no facility to email in your application.
  4. Asking for some sort of payment (e.g. to purchase a “starter kit”).

And how do you safeguard yourself?

  1. Use a PO Box as your contact address.
  2. Don’t include your date of birth, marital status, gender, Tax File Number or Centrelink Customer number.
  3. Consider having an email address that you have set up only for job applications.
  4. Use a mobile phone number rather than a landline number.
  5. Get as much information as you can about the organisation and the job; always talk to someone about the role, and ask them to email a job description and/or company information before you send in your CV.
  6. Keep track of your applications: where they are going, to whom and the date you sent them.

Does anyone else have any words of wisdom to safeguard against fraudsters? Or ways to spot them?

Written by evenitup

April 24, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Another day, another email from another recruiter

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Seems that Even It Up! is ruffling feathers and treading on toes in Recruitment Land.   Claims that Even It Up! is  “too negative” (from recruiters!  jobseekers love us!) are ringing in our ears.  Can we categorically state for the record once and for all:

  • we would love our website not to exist, because it means that jobeekers are being treated fairly and respectfully at each step of the recruitment process
  • we would also love to upload more positive experiences, but given that negative is what people are experiencing (because perhaps that’s all there is?!), then that’s what we upload
  • Even It Up! gives a voice to jobseekers, who for too long, have had to suck up whatever direct employers and recruitment companies dish out to them because of the power imbalance (i.e. if you want this job – and who doesn’t because they’ve got a huge mortgage to pay, lifestyle to maintain, credit cards and personal loans to pay off, kids starting school and another one on the way, planning an overseas holiday, self-worth is tied to work etc – you will do whatever we ask)
  • Even It Up! is more than happy for recruiters and HR people to access the information on our website (because we believe that providing information is the first step to any sort of systemic change). However, don’t access the information if you are not prepared to do something positive with it.  We are not interested in you accessing it and then complaining about what you read.  There.  We’ve said it!
  • Even It Up! also acknowledges that there ARE good recruiters and direct employers out there, and they are very supportive of the work we are doing.  We encourage jobseekers to submit their positive experiences to us, because the more jobseekers that are aware of, and use the good recruiters, the more likely it is that the bad will disappear from view.

Anyway here is the email from another recruiter, with our response at each step of the way:

Email 1

Hi Even It Up!

I decided to email you privately away from the blogs because I am concerned about your comment about this site being primarily for jobseekers and recruiters get involved at your own peril*.

I have nothing to hide and I am genuinely interested in what you are doing because I think that the industry needs to be cleaned up. I am however a little concerned that you just want to eradicate recruitment agencies altogether and that you aren’t interested in making them accountable or working with genuine professionals to ensure that candidates get the very best out of them.

I am more than happy to be made public as I do not for a second believe that my own record is unbleamished, but I have always tried to do the right thing – are you interested in drawing attention to those sort of people or just shutting everyone down? I agree completely that there is a problem but I am very keen to hear whether you want to facilitate change or just get people to say negative things.

Please let me know, I’m very open to considering your opinions.

Kind regards,

My response to email 1

Hi J,

As I keep saying, I would love to be able to sing the praises of fabulous direct employers and recruitment companies that treat their jobseekers fairly and respectfully, but the majority of stories that are submitted to me are negative.  If you have jobseekers who are happy with the service you
provide, by all means ask them to submit their experience.  I will be more than happy to load it up.

This site IS for jobseekers and I make no apologies for that… for too long jobseekers have had no voice and have had to suck up what recruitment companies (and direct employers) dish out to them. Overwhelmingly the response from jobseekers who visit Even It Up! has been “At last! Someone in this country is finally doing something about it”.  If that bothers you, delete your membership, don’t log on, or engage me as a consultant to work with your company.  The choice is yours.

From my perspective, change is about critical mass.  The more people that speak up and say they are not happy with the system, the more likely it is that the system will change.  As mentioned above, I also offer my services as a consultant, so those employers and recruitment companies that are genuine about wanting to improve the experiences of jobseekers can contact me, and I will be more happy to work with them.  To date, no one has come forward, and I have consultants from all the major firms registered as site members (and also have a page on my website offering my services).

Trust this clears things up for you.



Email 2

Hi Diane

Thank you for taking the time to email me back.

I don’t want to delete the membership, I want to do what I can to change the poor treatment that people receive – I’m on your side and the side of the people who want change. I fully encourage and support your site but the whole premise is geared towards people telling about bad experiences, not good. By all means expose those who deserve it, but couldn’t you make massive change if you were seen as actively promoting the good people because they would also help you to get rid of the dodgy bros.

As much as I value what you could contribute to my business as a Consultant, my candidates are the recruiters themselves so we’re working on a similar target, but as an example I know that Matthew McArthur is one of the most honest, trustworthy and decent people that you could find and he would be mortified to know that anyone had had a bad experience at McArthur**. I’d be very surprised if he didn’t come back to you a genuine response to the candidates’ concern.

I didn’t dispute that the site is for jobseekers, I was just saying that for an honest recruiter who was trying to participate, to warn me that I post at my own peril seems to indicate that recruiters are not welcome to contribute other than to defend themselves when an allegation is made.

I admire you so I won’t take any more of your time, I will watch with interest.

Kind regards


My repsonse to email 2

Hi J,

Thanks again for your response.  I do appreciate the time you have taken to email me.

Again, I can’t stress enough, I would love to promote the good guys, but I can only upload what is submitted me.  If it’s negative so be it. Please bear in mind, out of the negative comes incentive for change for the courageous… but it’s usually much easier for businesses to maintain the status quo and criticise others for being “negative”.  True change comes from daring to embrace the negative, hence my use of the word peril.

By the way, if you’re concerned about what my site is saying, you should be even more worried about what is being said in the Forums on Whirlpool and Vogue… the “negativity” there is like a tidal wave!

Again, thanks for your comments.


In the words of Erin Brokovich, this is getting really quite tiring!

*By the way, peril was a word I used in a Forum response – not for a million years did I think it would be such a contentious word choice!

** For the record, McArthur is listed on Even It Up! as giving jobseekers a less than satisfactory experience, and Matthew McArthur has not contacted me.

Written by evenitup

April 23, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Job market unkind to older workers

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Even It Up! has noticed with concern the global unemployment stats increasing as a result of the GFC.  We think partly it’s to do with business confidence (or lack thereof), and partly to do with an excuse by corporations to shed staff with (what they perceive to be) minimal repercussions.  It’s affecting in particular a number of key groups:  those who have just left school or uni, those in middle management or manufacturing, and those who are in the older age group.

The LA Times says that the current job market is especially cruel for older workers:

More Americans 55 and older are working longer, and those who are looking for jobs face a technologically transformed market where potential employers may deem them overqualified.  Many recruiters these days want only e-mail applications and refuse to take phone calls.

The number of people 55 and older who want a job but can’t find one has more than doubled over the same period to nearly 1.8 million. Many are struggling in a largely digital job search process that’s vastly different from what they have experienced before.

But with unemployment the highest it has been in more than a quarter of a century — 8.5% nationally in March and 10.5% in California in February — older job seekers are competing with younger, cheaper rivals.

Older employees are often wrongly perceived as being overqualified, overpriced, technologically challenged and inflexible, said Gene Burnard, publisher of the job-listing website Workforce50.com.
Some recruiters assume that because older applicants are vying for jobs that pay less than their previous positions, they’ll jump ship as soon as the economy improves.

Graying job seekers are flocking to technical and community colleges to improve their skills, experts said. Many are tapping reservoirs of discipline accumulated from decades in the workplace to keep themselves focused.

We would argue that older Australian workers are having similar experiences. You can read the full article here.

HREOC also debunk myths (backed up by research) about hiring older workers, and remind recruiters that discrimination is  against the law.  However, Even It Up! has consistently said that discrimination is now a covert practice, because (of course) the overt kind is illegal and people/businesses are getting very good at non-discriminatory discrimination…

Written by evenitup

April 23, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Misleading employment ads

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Misleading conduct in relation to employment

A corporation shall not, in relation to employment that is to be, or may be, offered by the corporation or by another person, engage in conduct that is liable to mislead persons seeking the employment as to the availability, nature, terms or conditions of, or any other matter relating to, the employment.

Ok… so we know it’s illegal… so why do recruitment companies engage in misleading conduct…and get away with it?

The Trade Practices Act 1974 can be accessed in its entirety here.

Written by evenitup

April 22, 2009 at 10:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized