This week’s letters

Letter of the week
HR must practise what it preaches

Well done to your correspondent for speaking out in "Agencies and HR
could care more", (Letters, 5 June).

Having been "deselected" just before Christmas as part of the
Prudential’s restructuring that you featured, I found myself in a very similar
position – long experience in HR, the wrong side of my 40s and redundant.

Although I was lucky enough to find a handful of agencies that were willing
to put some effort into matching my skills against vacancies in their
databases, the vast majority of them were completely silent and even seemed to
resent me phoning from time to time to check on progress.

I was also on the receiving end of questions on how I felt about working
with people younger than me and even suspicion because, at the age of 45, I was
not an HR manager (my choice).

The icing on the cake was answering questions about the O-level exams I took
30 years ago.

The delays your correspondent is experiencing are more cock up than

Nevertheless, HR simply does not practise what it preaches. Despite fine
words on ageism, youth appears to be everything and stereotypical judgements
are still made about people based on how old they are.

I even remember a recent front page story in your journal about young
high-fliers, which came out at the height of my own job search.

There should be more mature people in HR. We might then feel our experience
is genuinely valued and we still have a chance of finding work in our chosen

I cannot see that happening, and the solution for me was to broaden my
search. Despite my qualifications and track record, I left HR behind and moved
into a new field. Curiously, within three weeks of doing that, I was offered an
external HR role.

Des Farthing
Via e-mail

Recruitment must rip up rule book

The sentiments expressed in "Agencies and HR could care more"
reflect a widespread problem in the recruitment industry. I have seen this from
both sides – as an HR professional and as a candidate – and have been bitterly
disappointed by the performance of a number of agencies.

As an HR professional, I was fed up with receiving speculative CVs from
agencies on the off chance, and others that in no way reflected the brief

Agencies had rarely met the candidates, so exactly how much work had they
put in for their 25 per cent commission?

Then a colleague told me that an ex-employee of a well-known agency told her
that she had been encouraged to present as many CVs as possible – the more the
client gets, the more chance that they will recruit one of them.

This delusion led me to develop a totally different approach to recruitment.
We don’t use databases or CVs, we tailor everything to the vacancy, and we
focus on future ability, rather than historic technical competence.

However, part of the problem lies in the way candidates apply for jobs. I
want to know candidates really want the job – not just any job, but that particular

HR professionals complain about skills shortages – so stop doing things the
way you’ve always done them, stop relying on computer process-driven agencies
and get radical.

And candidates: stop doing the same thing. Do your homework, don’t just copy
everyone else.

Recruitment needs a revolution, but until HR professionals, recruiters and
candidates rip up the rule books, we will continue to see skills shortages,
poor service and discrimination.

Chantal Walton
Director HR on Tap, Cambridge

There’s two sides to age bias story

I have been out of work for a lengthy period in the past and share the
concerns about discrimination on the basis of age.

I was, therefore, dismayed to read towards the end of the letter that the
writer did "not feel secure in putting my future in the hands of very
young staff." Oops.

Jon Friend
Senior personnel manager

The UK still won’t budge an inch

I am 45 years old and was educated using the metric system.

How old will I be before the UK finally adopts metrication?

Your news headline, "Labouring under a ton of new legal
practices", (News, 5 June) should read, "Labouring under a tonne of
new legal practices"

Mark Beaumont
Senior loss prevention manager BOC Distribution Services

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