Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Posts Tagged ‘risk management

It’s about the people, stupid!

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Even It Up! gets quite a bit of criticism from recruiters.  Surely not, we hear our supporters say; how can this be?  The criticism comes from two main areas 1) we aren’t recruiters and 2) we’re too negative.

Before we address these criticisms, how about we get back to basics?  How about we think about the purpose of recruitment: what it’s actually for.   We’ll go to our friend the internet for this, and offer a selection of definitions for your perusal.

Definition #1 (from Business Dictionary) Recruitment is the process of identifying and hiring best-qualified candidate (from within or outside of an organisation) for a job vacancy, in a most timely and cost effective manner.

Definition #2 (from BNet) the activity of employing workers to fill vacancies or enrolling new members. Employment recruitment is composed of several stages: verifying that a vacancy exists; drawing up a job specification; finding candidates; selecting them by interviewing and other means such as conducting a psychometric test; and making a job offer. Effective recruitment is important in achieving high organizational performance and minimizing labor turnover. Employees may be recruited either externally or internally.

Definition #3 (from eHow) Recruitment and selection refers to the chain and sequence of activities pertaining to recruitment and selection of employable candidates and job seekers for an organization. Every enterprise, business, start-up and entrepreneurial firm has some well-defined employment and recruitment policies and hiring procedures. The HR department of large organizations, businesses government offices and multilateral organizations are generally vested with the responsibilities of employee recruitment and selection.

If we collate these definitions, it would be fair to say that recruitment is about the processes and systems that ensure the organisation puts the best possible person into a vacant job position so that the organisation is able to perform at optimum level.

There are three parts to this equation.  Firstly, there have to be the “best possible people” who can be recruited; secondly, there have to be vacant jobs that require filling; and thirdly organisations have optimum processes and systems in place in order to do the recruiting.

From a jobseeker’s point of view there is generally some work required on their part to ensure they are “the best” and can seamlessly integrate with the organisation’s recruitment systems and process.  The onus is usually on the jobseeker to acquire the necessary skills (communication, computer etc.), qualifications (degrees, diplomas, trade certificates etc.) and experience (work, volunteering etc.) to ensure they can meet the organisation’s requirements.   Often the jobseeker will keep “skilling up” to improve their career prospects and keep being “the best”.  The jobseeker, therefore, fulfills their part of the recruitment bargain*.

So, from an organisation’s perspective, it should be a very simple process to ensure that the best possible person wins the vacant position.  If only that were true, because the organisation, in its efforts to minimise risk** puts barriers and obstacles in the jobseeker’s way (and anyone who reads this blog and has visited the Even It Up! website knows very well what these are.  If you are new, here is an example).  The organisation, in effect, is not fulfilling their part of the bargain! And, interestingly, this is projected onto the the jobseeker,  who is then seen to have “failed” in some way.

Now: to get back to address our critics.  We are not recruiters, but we have been a part of the recruitment process.  We have collected the necessary skills, qualifications and experience.  We have jumped through all the hoops you require us to.  And still we come up short.  We are too this, or not enough of that … you get the picture.  And it’s not a case of sour grapes.  We have applied for roles, not won them, and can still speak highly of the organisation involved (sadly, not many!).  Treating jobseekers fairly and respectfully is a wonderful (and strategically clever) way to manage your brand.

And it’s the very fact that we’ve had recruitment “done to us” that entitles Even It Up! to be negative.  And we are not going to change this position in a hurry because recruitment is broken, and it needs to be fixed.  And by that we don’t  mean just getting rid of all those awful recruitment companies who operate on an old school sales model, rather than a knowledge economy talent model.

We need organisations to fulfill their part of the bargain and make it easy to actually hire the best person for the job.  Not the person who will argue the least, or has the WASP surname, or who is the easiest to manage, or is the youngest and therefore most likely to stay, or who the panel chair would like to bonk, or who kisses up to the recruitment consultant.  We expect our organisations to actually be diverse and live up to the promise of employer branding, not simply talk about it using empty rhetoric.

There is a wonderful old saying that can be directly applied to recruitment: you can put as many candles as you like into a pile of crap and it still doesn’t make it a birthday cake.  Our being positive about recruitment won’t make it so.  It’s only by saying that it is broken that we can truly think about how it can be fixed.

* One thing that recruiters hate more than anything else is jobseekers applying for jobs where they don’t have the skills, knowledge or experience, or conversely, too much of it.  It throws the process into chaos!  The internet has highlighted this “deficiency” and many recruiters complain about being swamped by online applications from people who they consider unsuitable.

** Many organisations are risk averse and perceive (and treat) recruitment as a  major risk management operation.

Edged out by “instinct”

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At Even It Up! we like applying for roles just to interrogate the process that direct employers and recruitment companies use.  We are a bit like Mystery Jobseekers. The latest one we applied for was a part-time Communications Assistant with Edge Recruitment.

The role was advertised on Seek in early August, and we applied for it by sending in our CV and a cover letter.  Then we waited.  And waited.  A couple of weeks went by and we called to follow up.  We were advised that the person who was responsible for the recruitment was out of the office, and a message was taken.  And then we waited, and waited some more.

Yesterday, we thought we’d call again.  And we got the same spiel.  But we got a call this morning, only to be told that they were sorry for that lack of response, but people were off sick, and our message must have slipped through the cracks (and yes, they got the irony considering the position that was applied for!)….

Anyway.  Back to the position.  We were advised that the position had been filled, and we were told about the background of the person who had been given the role.

Unsatisfied with the response, we dug further and found:

  • They received over 70 applications for the role
  • They could have interviewed 10 people for the position (including us) but decided to only go with three
  • All other 10 people who could have been interviewed (including the person who had won the role) had similar backgrounds, experience and qualifications
  • The recruiter had the same conversation “explaining” the situation to the other people who called and weren’t interviewed…
  • The decision around who to interview was based on follow-up of the application (difficult when your calls slip through the cracks), presentation of the application and was more to do with “instinct”  than science (the recruiter told us that she had been recruiting for 11 years, and often made decisions based on this, although she didn’t want us to think that there wasn’t a scientific process behind it!)
  • When we suggested that as a jobseeker, it was difficult to see how this was a fair process, given that an interview would have been where we could have showed our portfolio and communication skills , the response was:  what would you have us do? Interview all 10 candidates?  There was also a discussion about having to be “ruthless” in the culling process.  Just what every jobseeker wants to hear – not!
  • We then told the recruiter that we were calling on behalf of Even It Up! to which the reply was: why would you apply for a role that you had no intentions of taking?  We said we were like Mystery Jobseekers, but we would like to take our response further: why would you advertise a position, have a number of suitable candidates apply and not interview them?
  • We were then told that our feedback was welcome (and that she knew about our site) and would welcome an opportunity to review the process.   We said: engage us as consultants, to which we got short shrift!

So, the questions that we ask are these: if the so-called recruitment experts are basing their selection of candidates on “instinct” rather than a scientific process (that jobseekers are supposed to know, agree to and comply with), what hope have any of us got?   And how many excellent candidates are excluded from being interviewed because recruiters have not thought about managing the positive risks of too many applications?

We would therefore be right to assume that getting an interview and winning a position is a matter of luck rather than good management (despite all the rhetoric to the contrary).  And meanwhile the evidence keeps mounting about the subjectiveness of the jobseeking process and how systemically flawed it is…

Written by evenitup

September 8, 2009 at 11:56 am

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