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The Old Bait and Switch

January 25, 2011

Back in the day when I was a younger and much more impressionable consumer/shopper, I made a pilgrimage to a big electronic box store to purchase one of those new fancy VCR players.  They had advertised a GREAT DEAL in the Sunday paper, so off I went with my checkbook  in my left hand and the Sunday circular in my right to make my purchase.  But once I got there, I found that the advertised GREAT DEAL was all sold out (hmmm) and the nice young man in the blue shirt instead sold me a nicer more expensive model.   While it was perfectly serviceable, it was not what I wanted nor was not necessarily what I had budgeted for.   My resistance was low and perhaps I was a bit desperate to finally get one of these fancy new gadgets home and hooked up, so I caved and I purchased.

Does this still happen?  I’m sure it does.  Although, I’m happy to report, no longer to me.

But the old bait-and-switch also still exists in the world of job offers and hiring practices.    And much like eager-buyer me with my checkbook in hand, job hunters, particularly those who have been unemployed for a while, may be quick to accept a job and then find out that it’s not quite what they expected.  So why does this happen?  I think there are several reasons:

  • The company needs to hire people – but they haven’t taken the time to define what kinds of people – or even what skills and backgrounds those people will need to bring.  So they hire, not on any sort of job fit criteria (since there is no real job defined), and end up with new employees who become quickly disillusioned as it is surely not the job they thought they were accepting.
  • The company may ‘oversell’ its job to get someone on board… dancing around duties and opportunities and professional challenges that the candidate can expect once on board.  One warning sign – are there conflicting descriptions between a job posting and the interviewer’s description?  Is it “entry level” yet still also requires 3 to 4 years of experience?
  • The company realizes they have a hard position to fill – due to travel, hours, goals, location, or any other number of factors.  So they purposefully sugar coat or don’t disclose certain things.  I have a friend who, within the past few months, was told (and given a written job description) listing 20% travel.  She received an offer letter, clarified some job duties including the travel before accepting the job.  However she found out on Day 1 when provided with a DIFFERENT job description, that the travel was 90%+.  She was the second person in 2 days to quit on Day 1 of employment in this position.
  • The company, through its eager recruiter or HR professional, has heard that one needs to build a pipeline of candidates or a talent pool – so they run postings for job openings that don’t really exist merely to gather resumes.  Creating frustration for the job seekers submitting resumes/applications and ruining their brand reputation at the same time.

Buyer beware – at the electronic store AND at the interview.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Christy permalink
    January 25, 2011 6:51 am

    Excellent advice and very timely, Robin!

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