IT Employment

Pros and cons: When to post a job opening and when to just fill it at will


Have you ever seen a position filled at your company and thought, "Hey, I would like to have known about that one!" When to post a position and when to just fill one with your choice of personnel is a slippery slope for managers. While regulations for posting open positions is stricter in the government sector, that's not the case with privately owned companies. There is no law requiring private sector employers to post jobs.

However, according to Mary Ann Masarech, BostonWorks.com's "Ask an Expert" columnist, posting jobs is still a best practice corporations should exercise because:

"A consistent, well-publicized job posting process benefits both organizations and employees. It fosters an environment of opportunity and encourages employee-driven career management. When employees inquire about or apply for new positions, organizations can take stock of the interest and abilities of its workforce and be more strategic in cultivating talent."

A very good point. There's nothing worse than not even being considered for an internal position that you know you could do well. This certainly would put a dent in any lateral company moves in a company. What if some guy in accounting is an IT whiz and wants to apply for a position in that area but the hiring boss has never heard of him? Unless there is a formal posting process, those types of opportunities are lost.

 

Having said that, however, there can be problems with formally posting positions. First, the process itself can be long and drawn out for an enlightened manager who already knows who among his staff is really the most qualified for a position. Good managers know the strengths and weaknesses of their staff members. The process of posting a job and then going through a series of interviews is frustrating, both for the manager and for the person who could become aware he is just going through the motions.

 

Of course, bad managers don't know the strengths and weaknesses of their people. So there's another opportunity for abuse of the system. For example, I was once interested in an open position at a company but the VP who wrote the job description was so specific in the listed requirements that he all but used the preferred candidate's initials. That was a case of a manager pretending to follow the course but really ensuring the outcome at the onset.

 

I've been on both sides of this fence. What has your experience been?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

19 comments
leoforward
leoforward

Posting all jobs sounds like a panacea for employees looking for advancement and self-improvement; however, if you want to see how it doesn't work, look at government employment. I have never worked for government, but both my spouse and two best friends do. They have tremendous job security, lousy benefits, and subpar salaries all of which are subject to the whims of the governor and state legislature. Benefits are reduced each year while pay raises are generally skipped unless there is an election scheduled. Here in Georgia, state government jobs must be posted and open for a specified period of time. The reality is that many managers have already promised the job to an unemployed friend, relative, or supporter. Expertise in the field is less desirable than political loyalty since facts often conflict with political beliefs. Posting jobs does little in Georgia to reduce either nepotism or cronyism. It might be argued it even exacerbates the problem by providing procedural CYA for the hiring managers. I have seen much less of a problem in the private sector. The bottom line is that no employment process is perfect. Before the private sector starts applying a one-size fix to all situations, it should be considered how well the current system has worked or how badly it has failed for each company.

swteach
swteach

One of the challenges a good manager faces is the notion that he/she may have to change or adapt from a chosen position. It may be that he/she has a specific qualified candidate picked out for a job opening. However, another person may qualify for reasons beyond basic skills. In all fairness, before any postings or copnsideration can be done, a manager should declare the policy regarding promoting from within. If there is such a policy, and it flies in the face of a desire/decision to hire someone from the outside, the manager is faced with giving the benefit of the doubt to an internal QUALIFIED candidate, and may then have to provide some training to bring him/her up to the level of the external choice. Or the manager invokes executive privilege and hires the "foreigner", and then has to seal with issues of trust and credibility.

marcpen
marcpen

I spent months building up my one-man IT department to the point where it needed two people. My line manager groomed me to lead the team and the job was so in the bag I hardly prepared for the interview. Big mistake because the MD insisted on advertising the job far and wide and then the interview panel chose someone else for the job I had created for myself.

Tig2
Tig2

I frequently get calls for roles at a particular employer. I have one firm that handles those submissions for me... and only one. The frustrating thing is that when i am notified of a role for which I may be a fit, I know that I shouldn't bother to answer my phone for the rest of the week. Every recruiter from second tier down will be calling to submit for the same role. If you contract, you soon learn that multiple submissions will get you rejected- regardless of how good a fit you may be. Where it gets really hard is to have someone submit your resume without your permission. That bites on several fronts- you get tossed out of consideration and you have no way to keep it from happening. I have seen a lot of stuff posted that at a casual glance told me that submitting would be a waste of time, energy and effort. As another poster put it, you could see the initials of the successful candidate on the posting. I think that following the process is the right answer- but when you are not opening a new role and you have a resource in place that you want for a particular role, the process should change.

bg6638
bg6638

One of the most frustrating things that I have, is to see job descriptions listing advanced degrees as preferred along with virtually every cert offered when the position(s) listed could be easily performed by individuals who have far less experience/education. I know that some "overloading" is the norm in IT, but when you see firms preferring an MCSE, CCNP, CCDP and/or a CCIE for a Help Desk position, you have to wonder what the hiring manager was thinking? I disregard the "fluff" and apply for any position that I feel that I am qualified for regardless of education/cert requirements.

jaybee63
jaybee63

I have worked at a number of companies, both large and small, and I can't say that I have ever felt that the hiring process was without a lot of subjectivity. Larger firms tend to make it appear to be an open process due to fear of law suits, but in the end, if you have someone you like from the outset and they apply for the position, they will most likely be hired. Having said that, the best you can do is to make the process as transparent as possible. Publicly post the position, ask the same questions of all the candidates, and have multiple people involved in the interviewing / selection process.

Kiltie
Kiltie

is another favourite trick. Particularly in small privately owned companies. Positions are filled with relatives of the Boss, often without regard to skills and abilities. Before long, half (or more) of the workforce are all related.

Johnny Bee
Johnny Bee

On several occassions within my company jobs have been posted that supervisors and managers have said were perfect for me. Most of them I would never have applied for due to reasons of inexperience, personal history, wasn't interested, etc. However, I also have a strong belief that job hunting is like the lottery, you will definitely lose without a ticket, or resume in this case. So I applied to nearly all of these positions only to find out, for no less than three of the five I applied for, that the job had in fact been created to accomodate both a need and someone else who had already been doing the job. These people were usually helping out the department due to modified work or labour overruns (too many production people in house). This meant that everyone who applied, except for that one individual was wasting their time, not to mention the time wasted by the company in going through the hiring/interview procedures. I am not bitter. In most cases these people were either best qualified or "best fits". What I am most put off by is the fact that appointing these people to the positions, with a valid explanation, might have been a better approach. This is still a basket of eggs as there would be some people upset by the fact that they didn't get their shot - but the reality is that they didn't have it in the first place. Keep in mind that these positions required a certain level of training and knowledge outside of the normal for a manufacturing environment. It is funny though. Through those interviews, management came to realize that they had a vast array of skills on the shop floor and implemented a "self-help" program to assist their employees in finding the right educational and career path should the employee wish to pursue it. I was eventually able to secure a position I've wanted for a long time because of that initiative by the company. I guess the point of all this is that there is no one best solution to interviewing or appointing. There are times when either will give the best result. Managers should know when they already have the right person or if they should go looking for someone that is better suited. In either case, you will have to deal with upset incumbents. Ultimately, if the right person has been selected, no matter the method, the resentment will go away very quickly as people will realize the same thing in short order.

exoduz87
exoduz87

sort of the same thing happened in the company i used to work for. A job opened up in the customer service department upon which the advertising campain was launched. Only for one of the girls working at the company to ask for her friend to be given the position. can only wonder what it would have been like for anyone interviewed to be simply replaced by a 'mate'. Also, right before they made my casual position redundent, my old manager ran interviews for a new full time tech support junior. He had selected the final person only to be told by senior management that they "couldn't afford it". So another person who almost had a job, only to have management do a backflip and revoke it. I am of the view that even friends should follow the application process and be judged against the fellow participants. Internal staff should perhaps be notified of new positions to allow for themselves to apply and move around the organisation. It should after all be about selecting the right person for the right job.

Leee
Leee

Sometimes there are other reasons for job postings. In fact, sometimes a job might not even exist. One local company, I understand, regularly posts job openings online in order to gauge interest in the would-be position and candidates' skills. The applicants are then compared with the employees already in the job to assess who's worth what they're paid and who might be the best choice for the ax. I'm sure this isn't an isolated case--but it's unfortunate for hopeful job-seekers who feel that they have "just what it takes" to fill the job and never get a call.

Observant
Observant

I have worked for some great bosses in the past. I have also worked for some real horse-hockey producers. I have yet to see an HR department that really, truly believes the tenets of ?the best person for the job?, EEOC, etc. The better ?looking? ones are just better at playing the games. Much like our politicians. Whether I?m happy in a job or not, I constantly am searching. It doesn?t take much for an upper departmental change ?Where they say ?Nothing will change, your job is still safe?? to suddenly see your position change (demoted, reduced salary, relocation, downgrading your cubicle, etc). So I continually peruse the web and am not surprised (amazed, yes) when I see job positions that are so over inflated that God himself would have difficulty qualifying. ... For example, I?ve seen several positions for a Junior Project Manager that not only wanted an MCSE, but the CCISP, CISA, and CNE. They also included the following requirements: Bachelors degree (Masters preferred), 12 years J2EE development, 12 years security architect, 15 years IT management, 5 years .NET development, 8 years Oracle or SQL, 5 years earned value, 6 years risk management, Certified PMP, 10 years project management, and the best one which just really torked me off is, 5 years experience with Windows 2003 Server. ... Oh, and several of them required the applicant to have at least 10 years in the health industry. Now, granted, there may be some 89 year old codger out there who has this much time in grade, but gimme a break! All that for a junior position that pays 45K? Plus you?d have to be Gordi LaForge to manage 5 years experience on a product that has only been out for 3! So when I see this, I immediately infer one or two things, ... or both. One, the hiring manager is 89 bazillion years old, been in the position for almost that long, and has accumulated all this expertise during the course of earth?s evolution (he probably has carpentry experience too and helped Noah build the Ark). Two, HR had their politically blind head up to their shoulders in an alimentary canal somewhere since they never bothered either check or ask about a BFOQ let alone do any math (2006 ? 2003 equals only 3 years). And actually, one job description required the 5 years experience on 2003 Server and the year was 2003! So apparently, they just took a bunch of job descriptions, had some flunky cut and paste several sections into one document, and toss it out there. For these positions, I won?t even bother since the frumpity old hiring manager has their mind set on who they are going to hire anyway so the HR and interview process is just legal maneuvering (at least for those companies that the law will apply to). It gives the appearance that the company is ?fair? and ?equitable? in the hiring process. Now let?s add the EEOC part of the equation. ... Contrary to popular belief, it?s not equal. If it were, then why do I see the statement ?women and minorities are encouraged to apply?? This tells me the company is looking to fill a quota somewhere to ?appear? equal to all. What?s wrong with the statement ?Qualified candidates are encouraged to apply?? Why even have such a statement? Let the non qualified apply and get rejected (assuming HR actually looked at them for more than 4 seconds(I seem to recall that 4 seconds is the average time a resume is viewed by HR).) Wouldn?t that really send the message that race, gender, etc. is NOT a factor in the hiring process? ... On a discussion board at Workforce, I noticed someone actually making the statement, ?where can I find a minority to apply for this position?? Equal? ... I think not. This goes beyond ?encouraged?. Targeted is more likely the correct term. So here?s a challenge: if there is somebody out there that thinks their HR, hiring managers, and hiring process is just the cats meow, send me a name so I can apply for a position. If they were truly honest with themselves, I would submit that I can spend no more than 2 years working for that company before I would find glaring flaws and holes in their promises and abilities. ... Despite their attempts to hide it from me (and knowing that someone is deliberately looking, the company will make significant efforts to hide it).

Questor1
Questor1

The problem with IT job hunting in Ohio is that it is a poor environment to look for IT jobs. Ohio ranked 49th out of 50 states in the USA for creating new jobs within the state. IT recruiters seem to keep increasing IT hiring certs & requirements because this regional market if flooded as IT in this area seems to be imploding. It is ludicrous to think that IT workers are out of date on their skill sets. IT manufacturers claim there is a supposed shortage of skills in the USA that requires them to offshore outsource. All they have to do is go to Ohio and see all the unemployed or underemployed skilled IT workers in this barren IT wasteland... This is why the US Congress should not increase the 1998 H1b visa limits. The qualified IT people are here, but OEMs and other IT companies choose to ignore this area in their rush to move assets overseas.

wuchak
wuchak

In our company all jobs must be posted. If the hiring manager already has someone lined up for the job and is posting as a formality they note, "Internal candidate identified" in the posting. This limits responses to only those who feel they are a great enough fit to be chosen over the already identified person. I have seen cases where the already identified candidate lost out to someone else.

artist
artist

Yoy are right. I work for a company such as the ones you describe. The last product catalog I designed had its front page scrutinized by the warehouse mgr, who happens to be the cousin of the boss and his ex-officio consultant/confesser

gypkap
gypkap

Be glad that you don't live in some countries where nepotism is the rule, not the exception. In those countries, if there's a job opening and a relative of the manager needs a job, the manager will have to hire that relative or face the wrath of his family, and his manager will go along with it as a part of the culture. I've been told about this by coworkers who have emigrated from such countries--and there are a lot of them.

Somewhat anonymous
Somewhat anonymous

I think even if the hiring manager has someone in mind, they should post the job and make them go through the hiring and interview process. I've been in that position, of the person about to get the promotion, and I appreciate that process because it makes you really think about whether you want it and go through the motions of the process. What if you work for one company for 15 years, then for whatever reason you have to go to another company, and have not practiced your interview skills in all that time? Also, I had an experience once where someone in my office was given a promotion without asking for it, and even though she accepted it (and the increase in pay and benefits), she constantly complained about the increased workload. I think if she had been made to apply for the job and think about whether she really wanted it, she either wouldn't have done it, or would have felt more ownership in the transition.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Its very bad for employee morale when jobs are posted and then vanish. One of the reasons it happens is because the hiring manager has good intentions, but he/she presumes they will get all the approvals, and the approvals are witheld. This happened to me when I was job hunting - good job, good pay, great fit, hit it off with prospective boss. But though his Canadian boss and Canadian HR people approved, it hadn't been signed off by US parent. So, it sits and is stalled. In the interim, US parent buys another Canadian firm and consolidates and decides to cancel the job. Boy, I wasted a lot of time chasing that one. It soured me on the company (no names, but its very "Brown") James

sbm
sbm

Anyone reading this post by Observant who has ever been in a position to make a hiring decision would see instantly why you have trouble getting hired. You are a rambler and a complainer. No one wants to work with either. It doesn't matter how technically skilled you are. If your personality sucks, that makes you unpleasant to be around. The same goes for your attitude. I like your sense of humor, and you have an excellent point about being truly qualified versus quotas, but that doesn't mask the fact that though you may have the skills, you don't have the right internal constitution. It isn't just that some people look better than others. Some act better too.

F4A6Pilot
F4A6Pilot

The ignorant can do little damage. The intelligent and educated can do a great amount of damage. H1Bs are security risks endured for Corporate profit and to drive wages down.

Editor's Picks