Bait and Switch

22 Aug

I am, among a list of other professional duties, an HR Manager. I often find humor in that. Why? Because I love the job, just not always the people. Give me paperwork and clerical things to do and I’m in heaven. Really. I love it so much so that I actually have a business, Davidson Administrative Services, for that purpose. I’ve always been drawn to HR in the same way that I’m drawn to libraries – I like rank, structure, regiment. It wasn’t until lately, however, that I gave more thought to how job expectations have changed and how common courtesy and thoughtfulness is a bygone practice.

When a company hires someone for a job there are many ways that they could’ve done so. Traditionally, one would assume that publicly listing a job may mean that they will not be filling the position internally thereby not wasting anyone’s time. However, that’s not always the case. In today’s economy where so many people are struggling to stay afloat I am angered by some of the practices in this field. It has hurt me to see someone close to me go through the job hunting experience and to be beaten down and taken advantage of along the way.

The decision to post a job internally first and then externally is a matter of the company’s policies and practices. One would hope that if they plan to fill the position internally they’d not post it online so that people could search for and find real job opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, I realize there are times when an employer wants to consider someone on the inside and the possibilities of bringing in someone new, but I’m talking about what I find to be the norm. Companies post, fill, bait and switch when it comes to jobs. That is to say, what you read isn’t always what you get.

I keep things simple and fair. At least, I’d like to think so. If there are no candidates internally vying for a position, I will then post a job opening. I don’t post a job publicly and then fill internally. Why do so? That wasted time could be spent posting for the employee’s previous position, an actual job. Potential new hires don’t have to then wonder if submitting the paperwork is futile and also means less paperwork for me. One would think that that would be the logical and common thing to do. Rather, common practice is to post the job opening even though it’s really not open.

And don’t get me started on how long people are made to wait on a callback that never comes or being made to wait countless weeks twiddling their thumbs. I review an application, go the extra step in informing individuals if they’re missing application items and then immediately let them know if they’re being considered for the position. This entire process is detailed on our website (when there’s a posting) so that applicants and potential candidates know what to expect and when. Everyone has a life they have to live and waiting to find out about a possible job shouldn’t be harder than it already is.

Large or small, all companies have the (often free) tools to keep employees and potential employees in the loop. Sometimes it’s not as efficient as we’d like it to be but I think it’s imperative to be as communicative as possible. Look, we’re Americans, we don’t like to have to wait. In cases like these you shouldn’t have to. I do the majority of my correspondences through email. It’s my preference. It also allows me to quickly assess a portion of a person’s technological aptitude (important for information services jobs). More to the point, responding to a person’s submission and providing timely followup is not an option, it’s the respectful thing to do.

It’s frustrating when individuals on the job hunt are told to expect one thing and yet something completely different occurs. I’m not perfect. Trust me, as much as I’d like to be, there just isn’t enough hours in the day. I just think that everyone should be treated with some degree of dignity. Post a real job, don’t just keep up appearances of considering an outside applicant if you’re not. Or, if you’re not ready to fill the job, don’t post it until you are. Follow up with the person in a timely manner. It’s not unreasonable to send applicants a quick email– it cuts down on the frequency of their calls and lets them know they’re not forgotten. Lastly, treat people like people. No one likes to have to job hunt. They often feel, based on the circumstances, beaten down or less than good enough. Think about and remember how it is to be on the other side of the desk.

This article appeared on page 5A in the 8/22/12 issue of The Union-Recorder.


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