Thursday, August 13, 2009

Truth in advertising?

The US News and World Report has an article on "bad" tactics by potential employers, which article begins

When it comes to hiring, some employers act like they hold all the cards--and they can treat job seekers as poorly as they want, without consequence. They're wrong: Smart employers know that good candidates have options (to say nothing of the ethical implications of being rude just because you think you can). Here are five common ways employers behave badly when hiring:

One of the most egregious things I ever heard involved a classmate of mine at UofChicago Law. He took a law firm job in California in the Palo Alto area, moved all his stuff there, and showed up for work on a Monday, only to be told the job didn't exist anymore. Earlier, in New York City, a patent law firm canceled all job offers it made for summer associates. [Of course, if one recalls the story of the ill-fated boat trip around Manhattan for Fish & Neave summer associates, not getting a job might not sound so bad. Fish & Neave doesn't exist anymore; the cancelling law firm does.]

US News continued with problems, but did NOT illustrate their initial point good candidates have options. Maybe right now there are not so many options. The problems identified by US News were hardly earth-shaking revelations:

Not sharing their timeline. Employers have some idea of whether they'll be getting back to candidates in a week or a month. There's no reason not to share that information, and it can be agonizing on the job seeker's side to have no sense of the timeline the employer will be moving on -- and yet many employers keep job seekers uninformed.

Refusing to share their salary range, but asking you for yours. Employers know roughly how much they're willing to pay; there's no reason not to share that info, other than that they're hoping to get you for a lower price. But that's lame: If they lowball you now and you figure out later that you're underpriced for the market, they risk losing you over it. They should tell you the range they expect to pay and put an end to all the drama and coyness.

Misrepresenting the work. Interviewers who make the job sound more glamorous or downplay less attractive aspects of the job--such as long hours--are guaranteeing they'll end up with a bitter employee. Truth in advertising works to everyone's advantage, because candidates who won't thrive in the job, or the culture, can self-select out before they become your disgruntled employees.

Not notifying candidates that they're no longer under consideration. This is both common and inexcusably rude. Candidate are often anxiously waiting to hear an answer--any answer--and end up waiting and waiting, long after a decision has been made. It's about simple respect and courtesy (and it just doesn't take that long to email a form letter).

Of -- Misrepresenting the work --, IPBiz knows lots of stories. One involves research labs at oil companies. A lab director for a certain West Coast oil company told a certain academic he would have complete freedom at the oil company. The foolish academic believed him, and of course was royally shafted. The lab director in question went on to work for another oil company, which had the rather unusual policy of having subordinates rate their superiors. Justice was served, although belatedly.

Of -- Truth in advertising --, the most efficient state is reached when everyone is truthful. Sadly, we have the Lanham Act and laws on "false advertising." We also had folks like Jan Hendrik Schon and Hwang Woo Suk, and a whole lot of scientists who believed their work.

Of --Not notifying candidates --, candidates are lucky to get an acknowledgement of a submission in the first place, and once they are toast, they typically are treated like yesterday's news. As to "emailing a form letter", one recalls the disastrous story of a certain university who did its announcements by email, unfortunately incorrectly.


from The Ripple Effect: What One Layoff Means For A Whole Town [when Whitfield arrived at his cubicle on Jan. 20, he found an e-mail from management announcing layoffs ]

Also: In good times, America sheds 2.5 million jobs a month but creates nearly 3 million new ones. (...)

Progress also has a plan to sell synthetic gypsum, a by-product of its newly installed pollution-reducing stack scrubbers,


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