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A Really Bad Help-Wanted Ad

Copyright © 1997, 2001 by David E. Ross

While reading the Sunday (17 August 1997) "Business" section of the Los Angeles Times, I saw a help-wanted ad for a finacial analyst. The potential employer made two very serious mistakes with this ad.

  1. This was a "blind ad", which did not identify the employer. Any employed person considering a change of jobs would be foolish to respond. You risk losing your current job if the ad happened to be placed by your own current employer. This employer is likely to receive responses primarily from unemployed financial analysts.

    During the past two years, I was unemployed a total of ten months; even then, I avoided blind ads. I know that, in today's job market, an experienced and talented professional does not long remain unemployed. An outstanding financial analyst — even if unemployed — can be choosy in the true sense of the word, responding only to ads where he or she knows the company and has already evaluated whether working there would be a positive career move. Not the unemployed but only the desperately unemployed — less talented and thus less able to be choosy — will respond. Of course, some recruiters might also submit resumes. They usually remove the job-seeker's name, address, and phone number. Thus, the blind ad will generate blind resumes.

  2. The last sentence in the ad states [in bold as indicated]: "Only resumes with salary requirements will be considered." Without fully describing the responsibilities of the position, the employer's expectations to be levied on the employee, or even where the employee will have to commute, an applicant is supposed to guess the value of the position. Total compensation — salary plus benefits — cannot be evaluated since the ad does not mention benefits at all. Since this is a blind ad, the applicant cannot judge whether good working conditions might be worth a lower salary expectation. Most important, this statement puts money ahead of everything else: qualifications, experience, ethics, professionalism. Then employers wonder why job applicants always seem to be interested only in money.

Fortunately, I am neither a financial analyst nor seeking a new job. For discussions of this and other errors committed by prospective employers, see my Recruiting Mistakes Made by Employers … and How to Handle Them".

Updated 17 January 2001

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