December 08, 2000, 3:46 PM — Intentionally or not, many companies at one time or another run up against the
wrong side of equal employment opportunity regulations. Potential claims of
discrimination can be found even in big-budget recruitment ads. In this, the first of a
two-part series, InfoWorld identifies recruitment risks.
Companies in dire need of IT professionals place immediate-need help wanted ads on
the fly, create "standout" recruitment media campaigns, and often target twenty-
somethings at job fairs. The problem, says Chuck Samel, senior director for knowledge
development at Legal Research Network, in Los Angeles, is that companies -- especially
start-ups -- can easily run afoul of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
regulations if care is not taken with help wanted advertising.
1. Start-up recruitment woes
Recruiting efforts at a start-up often reflect the very nature of the company's
culture: cutting-edge, casual, and fast-paced. Therein lies the problem, Samel says. A
casual workplace may send the message that the new company is unconcerned about
complying with EEOC regulations. That message can be reinforced by inexperienced start-
up workers who are often handling both recruitment and business issues. To avoid this,
hire professional recruiters early and educate employees on employment law and best
practices, Samel says.
2. Preparing recruitment ads
Before placing any help wanted classifieds, online job postings, or recruitment
ads, an employer should prepare a written job description. Doing this early better
ensures that the recruitment ads will be consistent with the job description. "If, for
example, a recruitment ad indicates certain educational prerequisites that are not
reflected in the job description, the employer might potentially be leaving itself open
to the accusation that the advertisement is being used to screen out certain qualified
applicants," Samel says.
3. Advertising pitfalls
Recruitment ad campaigns have to grab a candidate's attention to be effective.
Companies, especially high-tech organizations, often want to project a youthful, fun
image in these ads. A company should have practices in place to carefully review
recruitment advertising. "Eliminate anything -- including visual images -- that could
be construed as directly or indirectly requesting information about the applicant's
age, race, or national origin," Samel says.