it’s time for a job-seekers’ bill of rights

I don’t know if it’s the tight job market or just increasing incivility in general, but job-seekers are increasingly subjected to poor behavior from employers, from companies that never call for the scheduled phone interview to inappropriate demands for private information on online job applications.

Over at U.S. News & World Report today, I call for a job-seekers’ bill of rights.

Not a legal bill of rights, because that’s not my bag. But a moral/ethical/common courtesy one.

You can read it here.

{ 13 comments… read them below }

  1. Michael

    This is one of the biggest breaches of ethical behavior I see in business. Our common fascination of vouyerism has taken on olympian status. I have often wondered how a credit check willl contribute to work performance. I asked a economic professor of mine, and he laughed-not finding a cogent answer to the question.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      NJ either is about to or just did outlaw using credit checks in hiring, unless there’s a clearly job-related reason. I’ll be interested to see if more states follow their lead. I agree it’s out of hand.

      1. Natalie

        In cases where credit has zero to do with ability to do the job, it seems particularly cruel to me. Presumably someone with bad credit needs employment to get back on their feet.

  2. Helen

    I recently was asked by a recruiter from a specialist firm whether I would be willing to have my CV put forward for a job, to which I replied ‘Oh heck no’.

    The recruiter asked why not, to which I informed her that when I last applied for a job there in ’08, the interviewer was late to the meeting, was brusque in the extreme, and expressed some doubt as to whether I had really gained my professional qualifications when I said I had and with distinction as my CV said. (This would have been a silly lie since pass lists are available from the institute going back several years).

    The recruiter informed me that I was not the first person to have told her that, and that she and her colleagues were debating the best way of telling the company that many of the people they were now hoping to recruit had been put off by their rudeness.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Exactly why this eventually hurts companies in the end. Good people have options, and some day they may exercise those options against the company that treated them badly.

      And your recruiter should stop agonizing about how to tell them. It sounds like this: “We’ve been running into a number of candidates who aren’t willing to interview because they report they were treated poorly in the past. (Fill in specifics here.) It’s probably worth looking at how these practices might be changed, because we’re definitely seeing good candidates refuse to consider an interview as a result.”

  3. Anonymous

    Helen –

    I agree with your response to your recruiter. I wish I would have run down a list of issues with my recruiter that I recently had during a phone interview. It was most awkward experience I’ve ever had. The interviewer was 10 minutes late, was unprepared, mispronounced my name & never asked questions regarding my qualifications. Needless to say, the company decided to pass on me.

    I also wished my recruiter would have asked me questions regarding my experience with the two phone interviews I was given.

    Alison, how should job seekers advise their recruiters about bad interviewer behavior by prospective clients without burning bridges?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Realistically, I’d say to allow some room for mistakes on their side — for instance, I wouldn’t complain about them being 10 minutes late or mispronouncing your name. But if I were the recruiter, I would be interested in knowing that the interviewer was unprepared and didn’t even ask about your qualifications. Just make sure that you mention it in a neutral tone — you don’t want to sound angry or bitter. So for instance: “I’m not sure if you like getting feedback on these interviews or not, but Joe sounded pretty unprepared for our interview and actually didn’t ask me any questions about my experience at all. I figured it might be something useful for you to know, in case it impacts how you prep candidates for him in the future.” Or something like that.

  4. Richard

    I have been on many interviews only to find out the recruiter does not even have a job signed up yet. I am later told we were waiting for the final signature that never happened. What ever became of people on the hiring side being up front with people in need of work?
    The shoe may someday be on the other foot?

  5. Pingback: The number one resource job seekers should pay attention to: human resources | Allison Jones

  6. Robert

    The only thing I would add to your article is that employers should be required, when they state on a job description, that applicants must have a specific degree or a specific number of years or type of experience, how that degree or experience is necessary for success at that specific job, and that it’s not just being used a weed-out mechanism for arbitrary reasons. I came across dozens of jobs that I could have been great at that I wouldn’t even be considered for because I did not meet the draconian education and experience requirements. Sometimes I applied anyway, with a cover letter that explicitly stated why what I did in the past makes me worthy of at least an interview, just to make a point.

    Currently, as part of my graduate studies, I am examining the feasibility of conducting a research study where I measure the amount of unemployment and underemployment of college graduates is caused by this arbitrary hiring process. The hiring process, combined with the fact that companies don’t actually hire enough staff because they don’t to pay them, I believe has a lot to do with why so many so many people are either out of work, or doing work they are overqualified for.

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