Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Posts Tagged ‘References

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

Don’t rely on your qualifications

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A friend of Even It Up! was discussing his workplace, a South Australian government department.  We were comparing horror hiring stories, and the importance of qualifications when considering job applicants.

He recounted this story.  One of his colleagues (not close) has a policy of not hiring anyone with more qualifications than she has.  Apparently, she wants to be the “star” of the show and does not want any of her subordinates to “show her up”.

Even It Up! is appalled at this attitude on so many levels.  

Jobseekers frequently update their qualifications in order to be more attractive to recruiters and to further their careers.   There is an assumption that when candidates present at interview, their qualifications will be viewed favourably.   This is a completely reasonable expectation, and is how the “wheels of recruiting” should turn.

Even It Up! has found, however, that higher degrees are not often well received outside education or very specific industries.   In fact anecdotal evidence suggests that the higher up the corporate ladder one goes, the more “credentials envy” is encountered.    The feeling is (when one applies for jobs with Masters or PhD qualifications):  “This person is confident, smart, educated.  How on earth are we going to manage him or her?”.    Ask Kate expands on this idea in her CareerOne column here.

Getting back to our original premise, the sad thing is that the government of South Australia markets itself as an innovative, flexible workplace, with career opportunities aplenty.   Check the 2 or 3 page spread in Saturday’s Advertiser, and you can see the trouble they are going to.  Clearly, though, no one has told the person who is doing the hiring.  

And that’s the key to building a strong employer brand: make sure that the internal messages match the external ones.  There needs to be constant and consistent reinforcement of communication from the top.  Great behaviour needs to be rewarded, poor behaviour needs to be managed.  Nothing should be left to chance.

Unfortunately, with employer branding, it often is.

Written by evenitup

January 7, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Interviewing the boss

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Even It Up! is concerned that job interviews are generally a one-way conversation, with the workplace tending to control the process. Candidates have little, if any, opportunity to find out what the workplace they are seeking to work in is really like. Sure, candidates can download an annual report from the internet, or visit the workplace before the interview, but none of these will give any real indication about the workplace culture.   Generally, jobseekers don’t really find out about what a place is like until they work there.  The interview process is, however, usually quite telling.

At Even It Up! we think it’s time to shift the balance and urge candidates to interview their bosses, and check their references and credentials before accepting a position. It may save heartache for everyone concerned, and save time, money and effort in the long term.

But how do you go about interviewing the boss? Clearly, you ask for the interview either in your own interview, or when the position is offered to you. If the boss is not keen, consider that they have something to hide. If they don’t want to set up another interview time, clearly they are not flexible, or forward-thinking in their approach. Would you really want to work for that sort of workplace anyway?

When the boss has agreed to the interview, come prepared with questions covering the areas you would like more information about. For example, you may be interested in:

  •  how the boss deals with conflict; 
  • what workforce planning takes place and how often; 
  • what the expectations are regarding hours worked; 
  • whether the boss is a people person; 
  • how flexible the workplace really is; 
  • how organised the workplace is; 
  • how often strategic planning occurs and who is involved; 
  • what management and leadership development programs are in place;
  • how initiative is rewarded; 
  • how team work is supported; 
  • what your operational budget 
  • whether communication follows an open or closed model.

Ask for references and actually check them. Find out whether the referee enjoys working the in business, and if they have left, if they would work for the boss again. It’s crucial to also find out why they left.

It may be confronting for the boss because of the perceived shift in power, but with more and more people unhappy with the management in Australian enterprises, it may just be the shake up our business leaders need.

Written by evenitup

December 30, 2008 at 11:30 am

Some respect for referees, please!

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A friend of ours recently applied for a government role in middle management.  She made it through a gruelling first interview, and then had a second, which was much more informal – a casual chat over coffee (it was to be with the CEO, but that never happened!).  She was told by the recruitment company she was the front-runner, and that that the organisation was keen (although over coffee, they implied that their preference was for a man.  We are pretty sure that’s illegal, but that’s another story!)

Anyway, the recruitment company proceeded to check our friend’s references.  Now we all know that referees themselves undergo an interview when they agree to speak on someone’s behalf.  Often, the conversation can be anywhere up to 30 or 40 minutes, depending on how indepth the questioning is.  Our friend’s referees were prominent, high level businesspeople who took time out of their very busy day to provide information, and from all accounts, the reference check on our friend was glowing.

In the end, our friend was not offered the position.  She feels embarrassed and quite humiliated because she has to go back to her referees and say thanks, but she wasn’t successful.  The sad thing is – this story is not unique.

We’d like to strongly suggest – out of respect for jobseekers and their referees – that references not be checked unless the employer is actually serious about offering the role to someone.  To jobseekers we say: withhold those references until the very last possible moment! 


Written by evenitup

December 3, 2008 at 12:02 am

Posted in References

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