Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Archive for July 2009

Social media and job hunting: do you make these 4 mistakes?

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In a recent post about the Fair Work Act 2009, Even It Up! talked briefly about social media and the legalities around whether employers can use what they find online to aid the hiring decision.  Simply put: they can’t.  It is illegal to do so.  But as with many things in this world, it’s only illegal if you get caught!  Savvy employers will find other legal ways to refuse to offer a job to someone, for example:

  • you are overqualified
  • you are underqualified
  • you don’t have enough experience
  • you don’t have the right sort of experience for the role
  • you may not be a good cultural fit
  • they have decided to put all hiring on hold
  • the position has been given to a redeployee
  • an internal applicant won the role.

etc. etc.  There is nothing in what has been said above to indicate that a prospective employer went onto your Facebook/Twitter/MySpace page and did not like what they saw.  And whether josbeekers like it or not, employers can and probably will.  It’s naive to think otherwise. So, in the interest of protecting your personal brand (particularly aimed at Generation Y* jobseekers) here are some tips to help you:

1. Be careful what you write in your status updates.

We live in an era where we can talk about what we are doing and what we are thinking 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week.  But that doesn’t mean that we should.  Diane Lee  is on Facebook and was recently appalled at a homophobic, pornographic, and really unsavoury status update that was written by a Gen Y ex-student, and promptly removed the update (and all future updates from this person) from the Newsfeed (she is also considering  de-Friending the person involved).  The question then becomes: would you employ (or recommend) this person knowing  this is how/what they think?

One could argue that while our privacy needs to be protected (and should be), social media offers a transparency that allows employers to really see what a person is like.  It transcends interviews and reference checks.  And, from an employer’s perspective wouldn’t it be better to have evidence that someone thought (given thought is widely understood to be an indicator/predictor of behaviour) in discriminatory ways?  Could it be argued that social media is an extension of the vicarious liability laws?  Isn’t being aware of a person’s potential to be behave inappropriately heading off a lawsuit?  Isn’t it better to manage the brand of the organisation before the hire is made?  Not easy questions to answer…

2. Be careful what photos you upload

Ditto above, but the catch here is that other people can also upload photos of you.  You need to ensure that if you are tagged (in Facebook, for example)  and you don’t like the photo, you remove the tag immediately.  And you can set your privacy settings so that you can’t be tagged by other people.  If you are uploading photos a) be careful what you upload b) to where and c) who can view them.  Also, if you are the one uploading photos of other people, have some consideration for how they will be perceived.

3. Tweak your privacy settings

Most social media sites allow you to tweak your privacy settings.  If you are concerned about who is viewing your profile, make sure you adjust your settings to private (or similar).  But as demonstrated in the first tip, you still need to ensure that you are thinking big picture.  If you aren’t sure about a post or update, ask yourself if you would be happy if a) it was splashed across the front page of a major newspaper/TV news show or b) whether you would be happy for the CEO of <insert company where dream job is located here> read your post. If the answer to both is negative, err on the side of caution, and just don’t.

4. Google yourself

There are a number of sites where you can check  to see what is your online presence is (and Thomas Shaw from The Recruitment Directory listed a number of sites in his response to the Fair Work post). One of the easiest ways is to put your name in inverted commas and Google yourself.  For example the search for “diane lee” comes up with this. And this is just the Australia search. It’s worthwhile doing just to check what’s out there, and Even It Up! encourages  all jobseekers to Google themsleves. If there’s nothing there (or your name, but it’s not you), it’s time to build an online presence; if your online presence is less than rose-smelling, you need to move quickly to clean it up.

Work/life encroachment

The argument is: work is work and home is home, and what people do in their own time does not affect their ability to the do the job.  This argument loses strength when we consider how much work impacts (and encroaches on) our personal lives.  Hands up who has a work mobile or email where they are encouraged – nay, expected! – to answer/attend to 24/7?  Thought so.  How many of you bring work home?  Thought so there, too.  How many of you think about work, even if you are on holidays (and feel guilty because we aren’t working)?  Yep.  There’s another one!  And how many of you missed a special event because of something you “had to do for work”? And yet we still naively think that work and our personal lives can be kept separate.  The internet has enabled the demarcation to blur.  Social media is just fuzzying up things even more, and the law is trying (and probably failing) to keep up.

The point of this post is to make readers aware.  Josbeekers (of all generations!) really should be proactively managing their online presence to ensure that they are squeaky clean.  After all, you never know who is looking.

*If you are interested, more info about Generation Y is available here.

Written by evenitup

July 31, 2009 at 11:17 am

Fair Work Act 2009: a better deal for jobseekers?

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There has been quite a bit of dialogue lately from HR professionals, recruiters and journalists regarding the introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009, in particular whether jobseekers are “more protected” by this legislation.

Sadly, and despite the rhetoric, this does not seem to the be wholly the case.

According to Complispace, it seems that while the legislation continues the movement toward a national employment system, discrimination of any type (which is covered by Equal Opportunity and anti-discrimination  legislation and is where jobseekers would most likely need protection) is still mainly overseen by the state system, although HREOC is the federal body.  We are not lawyers, so invite views/opinions/expertise to add to this post.

You can view Complispace’s presentation here.

On the upside, it seems that jobseekers are more protected by the Act  in terms of their privacy, and in particular information that is collected about them via social networking sites.

Simply put, employers can not make a decision about employing a candidate based on irrelevent information that does not have anything to do with the job.  So those “inappropriate photos”  of you that were posted on Facebook (and which were accessed by your potential employer) can not be used to make a hiring decision.

The difficulty is proving it.  The employer is more likely to say that you didn’t have the necessary qualificaations, experience or organisational fit rather than actually admit to unlawful behaviour.  What Even It Up! does recommend is for jobseekers to proactively manage their online presence (and overall personal brand).  Make sure you are squeaky clean, so if any checking is done, only what you what found comes to light.  Employers (regardless of legislation!) can and will check on sites such as Wink and Spokeo.

Kate Southam discusses this issue, as well as the “toxic reference” in a recent blog post here.  If you are unsure as to what was said/recorded, under the Privacy Act 1988,  you can petition the employer for the records relating to your selection and have them amended.  Even It Up! is doing just that with a couple of local/state government departments.

We will post the results via this blog and YouTube in the form of a desktop documentary.

Written by evenitup

July 26, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Guest blogger: more from an ICT contractor

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Dear Diane,

This (see email below) is probably not a direct reason for avoiding agencies but a very strong motivator.  You may be aware of the PSI legislation (a contractor cannot earn 80% or more of their income from one source) and it would seem that the ATO is just going to the large ICT recruitment firms and throwing one big net over all the contractors that have earnt income through that agency.  In effect the presence of agencies facilitates the ATOs agenda to catch “non contractors”.

The PSI legislation is interesting in its effect.  The government is basically trying to stop people exiting the PAYG system.  The legislation imposes certain tests (results tests) that establishes the bona fides of contractors to operate as businesses.  The reality is that most if not all ICT contractors would fail the results test.  Ironically most ICT contractors think that they would pass the results test but they are wrong. This leaves the income test: meaning that most ICT contractors would need to have at least 2 clients each year to establish the under 80% earning requirement from a single client.

The reason why this is topical is that the current government commissioned the Henry Review into taxation.  The ATO are being asked to show that the PSI legislation has delivered and in a last ditched attempt the ATO is trying to show that they have implemented it rather than (as usual) sit around and hope that it eventually goes away.  Seems funny to say this  about the ATO but they are public servants after all.

The end result for contractors is that if you want to be exposed to the ATOs auditing agenda then continue to go through recruitment agencies. Contractors might think that it is easy and hassle free but many ICT contractors are just about to get a wake up call.  If they do then they might start to seriously consider the model that they are working under.

The only way to be a truly independent contractor is to have a contract with the organisation itself and be able to go from one organisation to another, that is, true independence.

Dear Contractor,

In a recent data matching initiative announced by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Paxus Australia Pty Limited has been asked to provide details of payments remitted to various entities (companies, trusts and partnerships) which derived personal services income for the 2007 and 2008 financial years.

This may or may not impact you, however we  wish to advise you that the ATO is requesting this information.
As part of the initiative we expect that  the ATO will match the data provided by labour hire firms (i.e. payments made by Paxus to you according to our records), placement agencies and computer consultancies against the ATO’s  taxpayer records (i.e. Individual Tax Returns filed by you). This work will focus on payments that are mainly a reward for personal efforts or skills, which is personal services income (PSI). Attached is a copy of the Data Matching Program protocol, together with the information request notification for Paxus Australia.

By law Paxus Australia is required to provide this information. This requested data is currently being collated and will be forwarded to the ATO shortly.

If you have any queries on the above, please contact your Accountant/Financial Adviser or the ATO on the contact details provided.
Director,
Contractor Operations
Paxus

Written by evenitup

July 15, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Recruitment: 4 reasons for a national enquiry

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Even It Up! was contacted by a recruiter in Sydney who is very keen to see a national enquiry into the state of the industry. At their prompting, we have sent correspondence to a number of key federal politicians to try and open up a discussion (at the vert least) about the industry.  Our email (written with input from the recruiter) and their context statment follows.

I wanted to contact you because am lobbying to improve the way that jobseekers are treated when they apply for work.  The Even It Up! website has been operating since December 2008, is building a national and global profile, and attracting media attention (both on and offline).  The website is like Choice magazine, but for jobseekers, who post assessments of the recruitment practices of recruitment companies and direct employers.

One of the areas that needs urgent attention is recruitment industry, in particular recuitment companies. This industry is largely unregulated and is responsible for causing distress to a large number of jobseekers, including those who use them for both temporary and contract work.

In a nutshell, I would like to see an enquiry into recruitment companies and how they operate with a view to:

  • regulating the industry (RCSA accreditation isn’t working – just ask jobseekers!)
  • minimum degree qualifications of “consultants”, with a HR component (no qualifications are required to enter the industry, which is predominantly sales-focussed)
  • implementing continuing professional development of consultants
  • overhauling employment conditions ( I am told that most consultants are on commission, work horrid hours to an unrealistic budget and job targets, and there is no representation)

It is my belief that there are some good operators in the industry, but these are few and far between, and mostly, the jobseeker has to deal with consultants who are glorified salespeople on a powerkick. By the way, my YouTube video 10 Things We Hate About Recruitment Companies gives a synopsis of why jobseekers hate dealing with them.

I am currently also collecting information from jobseekers via my 1st annual Jobseeker Experience Survey which will benchmark the jobseeker experience and provide hard evidence as to what parts of the jobseeker process recruiters do well and not so well.  I’d be more than happy to forward the results of this survey to you when I have collated and analysed the results.

I’d really appreciate it if you would forward this email to Prime Minister Rudd and his Chief of Staff.  I am also working on this at a state level, and have met with Minister Jay Weatherill, who is responsible for overseeing the reform of SA’s Public Service (although feel I am being “appeased”).   It is my contention that if the government is serious about jobs, then it needs to ensure that barriers and obstacles to getting work are removed, if not minimised.  Unfortunately, it is the general jobseeker experience that there are several obstacles – including recruitment companies – that are a barrier to getting work.

I look forward to receiving your response.

Diane Lee
Founder/Director
Even It Up

Context statement

I have been working in recruitment industry for close to 13 years, and my question has always been if banks, real estate, mortgage brokers and even the media are regulated, why not recruitment companies? When the Howard government was in power, I wrote to John Howard’s Chief of Staff asking for a national review with a recommendation to regulate the industry.

I received a reply from him stating that some leading recruiters state that the industry does not require of people like Andrew Banks and Julia Ross. Well they are very much misguided.

When it comes to fees there is no set cost structure which means that recruiters can literally charge what they like irrespective of the level of service.  Every recruiter should have a degree in the Arts, Communication or Behavioural Sciences with a HR Component to their studies as a bare minimum. There must also be a recruitment consultant practicing certificate organised by a registered central body like the RCSA and also there needs to be a code of conduct which consultants and owners are legally bound to abide by.

One of the greatest issues affecting recruiters is their conditions of employment.  Recruiters are expected to work excessive hours during times of a Global Financial Crisis to meet their budgets combined with ridiculously low base salaries which around $30K-$50K per annum less than a state government bus driver.  Clearly things need to change.

Written by evenitup

July 15, 2009 at 5:22 pm

1st annual Even It Up! Jobseeker Experience Survey

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Even It Up! is dedicated to improving the experience for jobseekers.  Part of this mission is to collect evidence that can be taken to direct employers and recruitment companies alike to lobby for an improved overall experience.

We currently have two surveys open and we encourage you to have your say on either or both.  The first survey is collecting information about what it’s like to apply for work direct to employers.  The second survey is collecting information about what it’s like to look for work through recruitment companies.

Both surveys have around 55 questions, and will take you about 15 minutes to complete. The results of the survey will be written up into a report, which will be available on the website, and also disseminated to all interested parties.

Even It Up! would appreciate it if you could also forward the survey to friends, family and colleagues who have been looking for work.

Go to Jobseeker Experience Survey.

One day, two recruitment conversations

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Even It Up! had a quite the chatty day about recruitment yesterday (thank you Skype!).  One conversation was scheduled, the other was serendipitous.

#1 Keith Keller from Career Communique

Keith runs an online radio programme that seeks to bring positivity into the world of those looking for work, or those people who are changing career.  He heard about Even It Up! through The Recruitment Directory, and listened to Diane Lee (Founder/Director of Even It Up!), Geoff Jennings and Thomas Shaw (who is the owner of  The Recruitment Directory) in the recent Recruitment Rumble webinar.  By the way, Thomas and Diane have had a number of discussions about the industry, and we urge you to check out Thomas’ website and blog which is very informative.

Keith was keen to have Diane appear on his show, because she is so pro-jobseeker.  However, and despite workshopping content,  it won’t come to pass at this stage.  Diane is concerned with the macro level (changing the system, raising awareness) and Keith is at the other end of the spectrum (strategies for jobseekers, maintaining hope).  Keith did suggest that Diane may want to consider entering politics!

# 2 Steve Wilson from Citi Recruitment

We posted the popular and controversial blog post 10 Things We Hate About Recruitment Companies on YouTube and received a congratulatory call from Steve to say “Well Done!”

We had a quite a lengthy discussion about the industry and agreed on many points. Steve recounted a number of stories about dodgy recruiters that he has personally dealt with and that continue to give recruitment and recruiters a bad name.  In particular, he is concerned about ageism that seems to be permeating the mindset of both recruiters and organisations who use recruiters. Watch out for more from Steve, because we’d like to interview him for our up and coming newsletter, which is in development.  By the way, Steve is a regular commentator on the industry, and is quoted in papers like the Daily Telegraph.

What this tells us is that even though Even It Up! has only been around for six months, people are starting to sit up and take notice.  Yay for us!

Written by evenitup

July 8, 2009 at 9:25 pm

The Even It Up! SEEK anti-SARA awards!

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Yes! It’s that time of year again!  Recruiters are giving out gongs to themselves and patting themselves on the back for a job well done.

Not!

And make no mistake, this little award is about the recruitment industry tooting its horn, not the jobseeker.  If you don’t believe us, check our their Campaign page.   Who was it that said blatant self promotion is no guarantee of quality?

So in the spirit of the event, Even It Up! urges jobseekers who have had a really crap experience to let the event organisers know.  You can even use their form, and here’s the link.  Just let them know in no uncertain terms of the terrible, unfair and disrespectful treatment you’ve had at the hands of these so-called professionals*.

Now, we know that we are going to be accused of being “negative” and “whingers”.  Good!  The only way we are going to effect change in this cattle trade of an industry is to jump up and down and make lots of noise!

So whinge away Even It Up! supporters.  Let your negativity be heard loud and proud!

* No disrespect to recruiters who are actually professional.  They want the game changed as much as we do!

Written by evenitup

July 5, 2009 at 7:24 pm