Local vacancy ads ignore basic criteria for cost-effectiveness

Dear Editor,

Many vacancy advertisements in the local media seem to ignore some basic criteria of cost effective advertising, such as the need to catch the attention of potential candidates and to attract a sufficient number of applicants to facilitate a competitive selection process.

Newspaper advertising is undoubtedly the most popular, but is not the only method for achieving such objectives; trade journals, radio, TV, in-house and word of mouth come readily to mind, and, in today’s fast-paced, ubiquitous, electronic communication, we cannot ignore the cost-free social media as perhaps the best means of getting our messages across. Newspaper ads are expensive and must therefore be selectively used to achieve cost-benefit effectiveness.

A review of all the vacancy ads appearing in all the local newspapers last Sunday reveals many ‘malpractices’. For example: using the routine ‘clerical’ or ‘defensive’ approach by replicating details from the job descriptions and regurgitating the job specifications instead of studiously internalizing and smartly projecting the essential aspects of the job and applying some marketing techniques/approaches to sell it. In this context, it must be realized that people who are happy and challenged in their current positions do not normally look out for vacancy ads, yet these are the very people who should be targeted in any serious ad; hence the need for the marketing v the bureaucratic approach. (This notwithstanding, it must also be cautioned that the essential focus of an ad must not be lost in verbiage that is confusing; there is a clear example of such confusion in a lengthy ad appearing in last Sunday’s Chronicle where a major corporation confused the search for ‘a person’ to market an asset with ‘the asset’ itself!)

Another trend from the review of last Sunday’s ads is the insensitivity to balance in that ads for routine clerical functions were given the high prominence and costly space typically reserved for relatively senior professionals heading up major organizational functions. Another major corporation, guilty of this, has been repeating the said ad all this week.

A rather offensive practice is to include at the bottom of ads a note to the effect that “only shortlisted applications will be acknowledged”. What is the purpose or value of such an insulting, off-putting, note? I can think of no better way to deter good applications. It cannot be that the cost or burden of acknowledging all applications is a factor in this e-mail age.

It is also worth noting that sometimes (for example for confidentiality/or to avoid undue speculation) it might be better to use a professional head-hunter or for the HR Manager and other senior executives to assume the role of typical head-hunters instead of always adopting the conventional recruitment processes.

Yours faithfully,

Nowrang Persaud

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