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The Truth About (Some) Employers

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by Lisa Johnson

over 3 years ago

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Last week, I was a bit harsh in telling you that the truth can hurt, and I know that some people may have been offended.  But before you send in the cavalry, let me tell you the truth about (some) employers. It’s easy to think that the hardest thing about recruiting a vacancy is managing the candidates.  And this is true, but there are times when the reason it's hard to find the right person is because there is something wrong with the employer. What do I mean? Well, think of it like this.  Many years ago I worked for a company where there was this manager who only seemed to talk to a woman’s breasts when he spoke to her.  He was a lovely bloke, and to be honest, it never bothered me.  However, I had two colleagues who hated it, and one of them left the company because she couldn't take it anymore.  The other one advised senior management and went through a lot of angst as a result.

The truth about (some) employers

Let’s pretend now that I'm a recruiter and I have to help this employer replace the girl who has had enough of this attention and left.  As a result of my discussions with the company and dealing with the manager, I quickly ascertain that there is an issue relating to the manager with (ahem) fascination.  Whilst the employer's HR team may be managing the situation, I have no control over that – as I am engaged to find someone for his team. Here is what I am NOT going to do.  I am not going to present any candidates who are likely to be offended by this manager’s behaviour.  I would never want to knowingly put someone in a situation where they are going to feel harassed or uncomfortable.  

Professionally, I need to protect my candidates, my reputation and the client too by finding someone who is going to be a 'fit' for this team. Now that is a hypothetical situation (and, I know, an uncommon one), as I wasn't in recruitment when I worked with this man, but this sort of situation does happen, and whilst it’s easy to think that candidates are the 'problem' in the recruitment equation, it can be the employer.  

I have been in this industry for a long time, and I have heard it all – the men who emphatically insist they will never employ a woman of a certain age because she might breed, the manager who worked his staff so hard that one man was found under his desk rocking back and forth, the women who are cruel to younger women, the sociopaths in management positions who, God forbid, end up managing staff. So sometimes, when you receive that email that says you have been unsuccessful or the call to say that you are not right for the role, you should sigh with relief.  

Because excluding you from that role may just have saved you from an awful situation, working with a horrible boss.

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