This week’s letters

Letter of the Week
Why is it so hard to get an HR job?

In response to recent letters printed in Personnel Today I would like to
reiterate how difficult it is becoming to enter the HR profession.

I am a recent graduate CIPD member with an MA in human resource management.
I regularly write for a recruitment publication and have varied experience in
HR, mainly at administration level.

I gained my CIPD because I was finding it impossible to get into the
profession without it. Now that I have this hallowed qualification it would
seem that it is even more impossible to enter this seemingly sacrosanct

When applying for a graduate HR position I was told I had too much work
experience. When applying for an HR officer role I was told I did not have
enough work experience. When applying for an HR administration role I was told
by one agency that it would put my CV forward, but that I should not hold my
breath as I would probably be seen as a threat because of my qualifications.

So the struggle goes on to find that elusive company which values my
qualifications and experience. That crazy, risk-taking company which realises
that although I may not hit the ground running, with some support and understanding
I could be that model employee it has always been looking for.

Anne O’Neill
Chorlton, Manchester

Shortcomings of personality quiz

My work as a consultant brings me into contact with senior managers across
industry sectors. The challenges they face are varied and complex, with
increasing pressure to become "supermanagers" who will excel in all
areas of business management.

The latest aid to assisting them in this quest appears to be for them to
explore and develop their emotional intelligence. I completed your article on
emotional intelligence (Features, 10 April) with a wry smile, following the
warning to HR professionals from Dr Higgs that "Épeople are re-badging
stuff as emotional intelligence."

As an occupational psychologist I have little argument with the concept that
there are key indicators that can be assessed and used either to predict future
performance or serve as a framework for personal development. My doubts lie in
the value of taking an "emotionally intelligent" approach to do this.

When further examining what practitioners consider to be EI it raises the
question of whether this is merely personality repackaged – or should I say
re-badged. The area offers little clarity and much confusion, however it is
presented. EI merges personality and competency frameworks detracting from the
benefits of either.

A credible assessment tool used to contribute to selection or development
processes, such as a personality questionnaire, serves no other purpose other
than to predict how individuals are likely to perform beyond the assessment
session. When used for development the prediction is related to work style with
skilled practitioners able to discuss likely strengths and weaknesses based on
preferred behaviours.

So in selecting such a tool the concern of us all should be its predictive
power or validity. Managers would be far better advised to draw on the wealth
of research evidence available on personality and performance than leaping on
to the next bandwagon.

Louise Polednik, CPsychol
Consultant occupational psychologist
Ramsey Hall – The Occupational Psychology Group

Three-year limit on leave records

With all the publicity surrounding the data protection draft code of
practice in relation to the keeping of employee sickness records, has anyone
noticed that Elizabeth France’s extra "helpful" guidelines include a
recommendation that ‘unpaid leave/special leave records’ should be kept for
only three years?

This is despite the fact that an employer may be required to demonstrate to
an employment tribunal that an employee has been allowed the 13 weeks
entitlement to unpaid parental leave over a five-year period or, if the child
is disabled, an 18-year period.

David J Hewitt
Personnel consultancy manager
Via e-mail

Progress made on age-diversity

The Government is making some progress in highlighting the benefits of an
age-diverse workforce, but it is really up to others to start plugging the gap.

Features such as last week’s analysis ("Anti-ageism code needs a
promotional helping hand", Analysis, 10 April) do an admirable job in
helping to encourage employers to think about age diversity when they are
recruiting, and companies such as my own, FiftyOn.co.uk, are also active in
demonstrating the business case for employing older workers.

Independent research which we commissioned revealed that 83 per cent of
people think that employing older people is good for a company’s image, a fact
which business is slowly starting to respond to.

Progress is not as rapid as it ought to be and not all employers have
recognised a potential solution to skills shortages and demographic shifts, but
I am encouraged that things appear to be moving in the right direction.

Denis Walker
Chief executive, FiftyOn.co.uk

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