Sunday, December 19, 2004

HR - What's Wrong With Job Ads These Days

There has recently been some discussion on the age for retirement and there have been comments that it really is not of much use if employers still discriminate based on age. Too true! Some job advertisements still specify an age range!

So what is with job ads these days? Well, by saying that, I am implying it was ok before. Actually, I am certain it was worse “in the good old days”. However, we certainly expect much more in this so called modern and enlightened age.

First, let me say that discrimination is essential in the recruitment process. In fact it is essential in all aspects of life! This simply means that we make decisions and choices all the time and in so doing, we discriminate one option over another. The key question is, what are our choices based on? When we choose food from a menu, we are discriminating based on taste (or what our wallet can afford). When we hand out increments, we are discriminating based on performance. I am quite certain that very few people would argue against discrimination based on performance. Of course, there will be those who question how we assess performance. Well, don’t get me started on that as that is a topic all in itself!

So, discrimination is essential. But is it ok to discriminate based on age, on race, on gender, on religion? Although many of us would shake our heads, I am also sure that many of us know it is happening. A lot of this may not happen overtly but in my opinion, it happens all the time, either inadvertently and subconsciously (at best) or consciously (at worst).

For example, if a company derives nearly all its customers from mainland China, it may well look for someone who speaks mandarin to run his customer service desk. The company may then specify being “Chinese” as a requirement when it actually means a person who speaks Chinese. Such employers are really not the ones we should be gunning for. The “serious offenders” are those that specify criteria that they “think” are important based on their own personal whims and fancies.

How about the level of information provided in today’s ads? Ads placed by the employer themselves tend to have information about the company overall and about the job function specifically. I believe this is good (and normal) practice so that potential applicants can then “self-select” and decide if that is the kind of company or role that they would be keen on taking up and hence decide on whether to apply. However, have you seen the number of ads placed these days where all you see are the job title and requirements? I personally find it arrogant and actually very insulting. The cheek! Employment is a two way contract where both parties contribute something to the equation. That’s why I think that companies that project the message “this is what we are looking for!” and could not give a damn about telling potential candidates about themselves or giving any info about the role, should simply be ignored!

Actually, I notice that many such ads are placed by recruitment agencies. Of course I am aware of the need to keep the identity of the employer confidential but not to the extent that candidates have not really got much clue what they are applying for. It really gives us in HR a bad name, not that we need to be kicked further down the hierarchy of importance!

C’mon, get with the programme! Give people some respect! Employers, do your job analyses and only specify requirements that you are confidently able to justify. Criteria that are essential for success in the company or the job. Agencies (and some employers), show us candidates some respect and treat us like educated adults (well most of us are anyway) and give us more info so we know what we are looking at and applying for. Potential applicants, make your voice heard! Speak up! (I do not think many employers are looking for timid mice… well, maybe some… which explains why many did not employ me… ha!) Ignore silly ads that do not give you enough info to make a wise choice. Unless of course you are desperate for a job and have many mouths to feed… I sympathise with you. Barring this, we should ignore inadequate ads. HR Managers, speak out against managers or line managers that wish to specify requirements that hold insufficient justification. Remember that you may be the last recourse standing between them and further hits to the integrity for the HR profession. Move us to next phase of development and enlightenment where we begin to treat people with respect and dignity and above all, professionalism!


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