This week’s letters

Move to smaller firm proved right

I was interested in the article ‘Can I be a big fish in a small pond?’
(Careerwise, 30 April) because I moved from a large to a smaller company and
became its first HR manager. I would like to offer some comfort and
encouragement to others considering this type of move. It has been extremely
exciting and rewarding so far.

In August 2000 I took on a job in a firm employing some 250 people, with 22
partners who had been used to doing all HR tasks themselves. My remit was to
set up a department from scratch, and take things from there.

I was on my own to begin with, and had to do the filing and the
photocopying. But now, 18 months later, I have the satisfaction of being able
to employ two staff in my quest to make our firm an employer of choice.

Being able to make a visible difference to the way the firm operates has
been the most satisfying part of my job and has fed my motivation to succeed.

A move like this enables you to make a difference and put your stamp on
things. I can now sit back, watch things grow and say "I did that".

Ayshea Christian
HR manager, Lovewell Blake

It’s impossible to beat ageism bias

The letters Personnel Today received about recruitment agencies and ageism
(News, 30 April) were of great relevance to me.

I am only 43 years of age and am blessed with the same luck as Cliff Richard
– I’m usually thought to be much younger.

However, a number of employers have failed to give me the chance to prove
myself by rejecting my applications on the basis of my age without an
interview. I was once told there would be a problem as the line manager would
be younger than me.

Only last month I was told by the head of recruitment at a major airline
that I would not fit in with the recruitment team. As she had never met or interviewed
me, I can only think she means on the grounds of my age.

I use the internet for many of my job searches and applications, which
inevitably leads to contact with agencies.

In the last 12 months, I have applied to over 50 jobs through one of the
largest online recruitment websites, and have not been put forward to their
clients for any of them.

In frustration I contacted them as I had met the criteria set out in their
specification, and was told they could not put all the selection criteria in the
advert. I told them that it seemed very odd not to list everything and asked if
that meant age could make a difference. I was just told that they had to stick
to strict selection criteria.

These are not small companies and when ageism happens at this level, it
makes you wonder what hope lies with others.

Martin Simpson

Monitoring rules leave me fuming

I am fuming over the issue of monitoring of staff e-mails and internet use.
I have to accept my MD tearing his hair out at this legislation and the
proposed code of practice.

As a medium-sized, privately owned manufacturing company this will mean
extra costs, either from excessive phone bills or through defending tribunal

We believe that any time spent on the internet for reasons other than work
is a cost against the company and a waste of time. So why shouldn’t a company
be able to monitor individual usage?

We advise our staff that we have the facility to monitor and that the
relaying of any offensive material either via the internet or by e-mail is a
disciplinary offence.

But would this be classed as ‘covert monitoring’, for which we would need
police permission?

Warren Payne, partner of Boodle Hatfield, points out that monitoring is only
justifiable where there is "significant risk" to the employer
(Analysis, 23 April). What is significant is that any loss to a company can be

I only hope the code is changed to reflect a more common sense approach.

Reg Harris
Personnel manager, Fitzgerald Lighting

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