Sunday, October 20, 2013
Take filled job postings down
Job hunting is tough.
Networking with friends and colleagues to see if someone knows someone who might know something about an open position in your field takes time. Writing strong cover letters to prospective employers about your desire to fill a job they've got open can itself turn into what seems like a full-time job.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate hovers around 7.3 percent in the United States. In North Dakota, thanks to a boon in jobs in the energy sector, the unemployment rate is much lower at 3 percent. But if you find yourself looking in Nevada, the percent of unemployed is more than triple that amount at 9.5 percent. In Canada, Statistics Canada, puts the unemployment rate at 6.9 percent. Regardless of where you're looking for a job, however, competition for open positions can be stiff.
A reader from Massachusetts (where the unemployment rate is around 7.2 percent) writes that she received an email from someone starting out in her field. The emailer asked the reader if she "knew anything about a supposedly open position" that appeared on a company's website.
The reader had heard that the job at this small company had been filled weeks earlier. "Yet the posting for it lingers on the company website," she writes. "It's not unheard of for positions to stay posted long after they're filled."
The reader wants to know why companies leave filled job positions posted on their websites with no indication that the job is no longer open.
"Is it sheer laziness or bait and switch?" she asks. "If nothing else, it's a waste of nearly everyone's time. I think it's unethical."
Unless the employer posting the position offers an applicant a less attractive position after they apply for the posted job, it does not seem to be a traditional "bait and switch" tactic. But the reader does point out a practice that can be a frustration at best and deliberately misleading at worst.
Why shouldn't companies be held responsible for taking down posted job ads once the job has been filled? Or at the very least to give a date after which no applications will be accepted, as some prospective employers already do?
When I recently sold an old sofa through craigslist.com, there was a mechanism for me to use to indicate when the merchandise has been sold. When items go up for sale on eBay or other auction sites, the seller indicates an end date for the sale or a notation is made if the item is sold.
Shouldn't we expect to deliver the same thoughtfulness to people looking for jobs as we do to prospective buyers of used sofas and Pez dispensers?
My reader is correct. It is misleading to keep a job listing that has no deadline for applications posted on a website long after the position is filled.
The right thing is for businesses that post jobs to make it a point to either include a deadline for applications or to take down the job listing once the job is filled. Such responsibility would be the least they'd expect in a prospective employee. They should start by exhibiting it themselves.
Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business and The Good, the Bad, and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull You Apart, is a lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School.
Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin