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Recruitment Hoops January 31, 2010

Posted by Audit Monkey in Working Life in Britain.
Tags: , ,

A great article was published by Sathnam Sanghera in ‘The Times’ recently regarding the use of Twitter by a company to recruit a person for a particular job. The beauty of this approach was the candidate had to follow the instructions laid down by the advertiser on Twitter, hence demonstrating their suitability for the role. The most informative paragraph from the article was this:

“The problem with recruitment in the 21st century — and we can blame HR people for this — is that the processes have become so complicated and self-involved, with the insistence on…equal-opportunities monitoring, psychometric testing, panel interviews…that it has become a test of everything except your ability to do the job. And there is evidence to suggest that..employers simply hire people on the basis of what they look and sound like, anyway”.

How true. When I was starting out in the 1990’s, I had my balls twisted by recruitment consultants and HR bods. Some recollections. After university, I applied to join several firms to join their graduate schemes without much success. On the advice of a careers advisor, he suggested I seek feedback as to why I had been unsuccessful. What struck me was the bland, non-committal mantra the HR officers came out with. For example, Midland Bank (now HSBC) ‘wanted team players with good communication and analytical skills’. Barclays Bank wanted the same. I vaguely know what is meant by these criteria but these phrases tend to be used with such regularity they start to become meaningless.

I’m aware the number of graduate applicants is often excessive to the number of positions available and that HR departments have to up the selection criteria to weed out those who are less than committed. However, the use of cliché phrases does make me wonder whether HR departments actually know the meaning behind the terms themselves.

Anyway, after much consideration and failed applications, I thought there is no substitute for work experience and that applying for some general accounting and book-keeping jobs would be a step in the right direction. Easier said than done. One feature of the Finance employment market in the South of England and London is that it is dominated by recruitment agencies. I found that an inordinate amount of time is spent by recruitment agencies on the registration process. Even with a couple of years experience under my belt, I recall a particularly long grilling from a well known recruitment agency (WKRA) about my education and work experience just for some temporary work. Of course, the vetting is to protect agencies’ reputation from being tarnished by space cadets who they have recommended to their clients.

I recall attending two interviews arranged by WKRA for two temporary (sic) accounts positions. I was accepted for one and rejected for the other. The reason given behind each decision was it was down to my ‘personality’. Oh please, how much personality is required to bang invoice details into a database? I’ll tell you, precisely zero. As long as you aren’t a psychopath, severely dyslexic, illiterate, a technophobe or dysfunctional, it’s quite easy.

The truth of the matter was for the position for which I was rejected, the firm already had a preferred candidate. I was just interview fodder and on a hiding to nothing. For the position I which I was accepted, I just tried to be pleasant at the interview and tried to ignore the fact I was jumping for numerous hoops for a temporary job with no security and no significant benefits. (Yes, I know I have laboured the ‘temporary’ bit but hey-ho).

Incidentally the consultant from WKRA thought I came across as arrogant during the registration interview, probably because I was bemused at the mismatch between the intensive questioning I received in relation to the job at hand and on paper I was overqualified.

Given this back-drop, I’m not surprised the great unwashed, the long-term unemployed, underclass stay at home and watch daytime TV as to get out of the income-poverty trap, as break out from Colditz would be easier in comparison.


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