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HUMAN RESOURCES

Wrong messages can mean disaster

The recruitment process involves addressing and attracting a pool of candidates for an open position in an organization. New candidates can be found either within the organisation or brought in from the outside, each of which option has positive and negative aspects.
Filling a job opening with someone currently working in the organization saves time and resources, can motivate other staff by demonstrating avenues for promotion or development, and offers a measure of confidence to both the organization and the employee - they both know what they're getting. On the other hand, the pool and talent of potential candidates is limited if a search is confined to within a company, and if the promotion is improperly managed, it may be perceived as favouritism for friends and supporters. Either way, the organization is left with another opening to fill.


Stanislava Luptáková

The recruitment process involves addressing and attracting a pool of candidates for an open position in an organization. New candidates can be found either within the organisation or brought in from the outside, each of which option has positive and negative aspects.

Filling a job opening with someone currently working in the organization saves time and resources, can motivate other staff by demonstrating avenues for promotion or development, and offers a measure of confidence to both the organization and the employee - they both know what they're getting. On the other hand, the pool and talent of potential candidates is limited if a search is confined to within a company, and if the promotion is improperly managed, it may be perceived as favouritism for friends and supporters. Either way, the organization is left with another opening to fill.

Because of the limitations of the internal employye pool, external recruitment is more common. There are several ways to attract potential candidates, ranging from a simple note attached to a bus-stop pole to the most sophisticated headhunting techniques.

The recruitment process starts the relationship between an organization and its future employee. The quality of the recruitment process plays an important role in shaping this relationship, and is particularly important in generating the notion of fairness.

Recruitment studies often refer to a crucial "psychological contract" that is created between a firm and its employees. This contract is based on the first information the organization presents to the potential candidate in the process of attracting them for the position. The candidate creates an image of the company, evaluates the presented aspects of the future job, and actually 'signs up' on the basis of what he or she is told during the recruitment process, not what is written in the employment contract. Research shows that broken 'psychological contracts' are a frequent cause of job dissatisfaction and even turnover of newly hired employees.

It is therefore vital to pay attention to the quality of the message the organization sends out.

Recruiters may send two messages - one which gives a clear and consistent picture of the position, and communicates the expectations of the organization, or one which, like so many 'help wanted' ads, remains vague but appears attractive in order to catch the attention of a large number of potential candidates.

If the initial message is deliberately vague, there is a great threat that the psychological contracts formed by applicants will be broken at some stage of the process. Despite the many advantages of sending a precise message, one glance in the papers or at university billboards shows that companies go for 'sweet nothings' far too often.

One reason for this trend might be that recruiters are appraised on the quantity of positions they fill and the speed with which they do so. The quality of the work done or the retention rate of these hires are recorded on somebody else's appraisal sheet. But given the importance that employees attach to the message they were given about a firm, it is a shame that so many companies are relying on exaggeration and generalities to recuit new talent.

Stanislava Luptáková is a lecturer at Comenius University's Faculty of Management. Her column appears monthly. Send comments or questions to Stanislava.Luptakova@fm.uniba.sk.

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