Mickey Silberman, the ubiquitous Jackson Lewis attorney with a gift for gab and an encyclopedic knowledge of the U.S. government’s online recruiting rules, offers employers who must comply with such rules three questions to ask themselves.
By asking themselves these questions, he says, you can reduce the number of people considered “applicants.” This can help employers better comply with the rules. (If you can show that you hired 20 women out of 25 applicants, that’s generally better than saying you hired 20 women out of 25,000 applicants.)
Anyhow, the three questions:
Are you front loading your “willingness questions?” An employer, Silberman says, “need not ‘consider’ candidates not willing to perform the job,” such as people who (depending of course on what’s needed for the specific job) aren’t willing to travel, work overtime, work weekends, or work at a specific salary. An employer could set up a special email address for applicants, he says. When candidates send in a query about a job, an employer could set up an auto-reply email asking them such “willingness” questions. If candidates get weeded out, the employer, Silberman says, doesn’t need to consider them to be “applicants.”
Are you strategically using data-management techniques? An employer can arbitrarily decide to consider the first, say, 20 people who applied for a job. If there are 20,000 other applicants who the employer didn’t consider, that’s generally fine, Silberman says. An employer can do the “last in the door” method (consider the most recent applicants for the job) or “first in the door” (consider the first people to apply), or randomly choose a certain number of people to consider.
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Are you properly designing and using “basic qualifications”? You shouldn’t require an accounting degree, for example, for an HR job, if it’s not necessary. You shouldn’t require a college degree just because it’s a common practice to do so in job ads; there should be a reason for such a requirement. Qualifications should be objective, such as “two years’ experience” and should not be comparative, such as “one of the top 10 accountants in the city.”
The bottom line, Silberman says, is that when it comes to compliance with the job-applicant rules, what matters is not just who you’re hiring but who is being considered in your pool of applicants.