Having a comprehensive policy on job postings and making it known
to all employees will avoid many potential problems and complaints. It is
important that this policy go beyond simply explaining that the employer believes
in promoting from within. If this is all the policy says, employees will feel
cheated each time a job is filled from outside. An effective job posting policy
will explain exactly what kinds of jobs will be posted, what criteria an employee
must satisfy in order to respond to a posting, how long postings will remain
on the board, what information the posting will contain, and how to respond
to a posting. In addition, it is a good idea to address confidentiality issues,
such as the circumstances under which an employee's current supervisor will
be notified that the employee has applied for another job within the organization.
If employees are represented by a union, the employer must be
sure that any policy it adopts conforms with all relevant provisions of the
collective bargaining agreement. Requirements under the collective bargaining
agreement regarding seniority and pay rates may affect every policy question
(who can bid for the jobs, which jobs are posted, etc.).
A statement of purpose describes the employer's goal in establishing
a job posting program. It might include a commitment to advancement within
the organization and a reaffirmation of the employer's commitment to equal
employment opportunity and/or affirmative action. The statement should stress
the employer's commitment to the advancement and growth of qualified and
motivated employees so that employees understand that simply being an
employee will not give them an advantage over outside applicants who are better
It is very important to communicate which jobs will be posted.
Many employers limit posting to jobs below the senior management level or
below a particular pay grade. Typically this is because the employer prefers
to “handpick” candidates for key positions at the uppermost levels of the
organization. If an employer chooses this option, it is crucial to communicate
to employees the fact that upper-level management jobs will not be posted
so that employees do not feel cheated (or worse, discriminated against) when
a fellow employee is promoted to a position that was never posted. An employer
should consider carefully the types of jobs it will fill through open postings
and express those limitations in the clearest possible terms. The class of
jobs to be posted should not be defined more narrowly than is necessary. If
only jobs at the lowest echelons of the organization are posted, employees
will not feel that the program is an effective tool for their advancement
and may feel the organization is discriminating by holding back all the “good”
jobs for handpicked candidates.
If an employer has a need to diversify its workforce at the upper
management levels, it may want to consider broadening the class of
jobs that can be filled through the posting process. When upper-level management
is not diverse, handpicking candidates for promotion may perpetuate the problem
because of the unconscious preference that many individuals may express for
candidates with whom they share characteristics. Using postings to fill upper-level
positions may help to eliminate the effects of unconscious bias and level
the playing field.
Another issue to consider in deciding which jobs to post is what
to do with jobs in one department for which employees in other parts of the
organization might be qualified. Some employers post all jobs companywide;
others limit some or all postings to the specific department in which the
opening exists. Whatever the choice on this issue is, employers should be
sure it is clearly stated in the posting policy.
Caution: Sometimes determining who the members
of a “department” are can be difficult. Employers might want to use a different
method to determine posting limitations.
An employer should determine and clearly state who can apply
for any posted job. Anyone in the organization? Only those in the department
in which the opening exists? Only full-time employees? Only those who have
worked for the employer for a certain length of time? Only those who have
worked in their present position for a certain time period (such as 6 months)?
Only those within a certain grade level (relative to the grade level of the
opening)? Is there a particular minimum level that employees must have achieved
on their most recent performance evaluation in order to seek a promotion? If each of these questions is clearly addressed in the
policy, employees are less likely to be surprised or disappointed if they
are later found to be ineligible for a desired promotion. Furthermore,
by clearly defining the pool of eligible applicants, employers will reduce
the number of applications received from ineligible applicants, thereby minimizing
wasted effort in the résumé review process.
The policy should indicate where job openings will be posted.
The posting boards should be conspicuous and easily accessible. An employer's
internal computer network can be highly effective in publicizing job opportunities
if all employees have access to computers. Some employers provide computer
kiosks in which employees can access the employer's intranet.
The policy should explain the period for which a job will be
posted. Some employers post jobs for 3 days, 1 week, or 2 weeks, before accepting
applications from external candidates. The time may depend on a number of
factors, including the economic climate, unemployment levels, and the grade
of the job to be filled.
The posting policy should also include a deadline for applications.
Many organizations stop accepting applications from internal candidates within
1 or 2 weeks after the job is posted. Again, this depends on the individual
employer's situation. The policy should also include information about where
employees can obtain application forms and to whom they should be returned.
Employers should indicate the type of information employees can
expect to find in a job posting. Typically, job postings include the title
of the job, department and location, a brief job description, required skills
and abilities, recruiter for the position, phone number and e-mail address
of the recruiter, and perhaps the name of the supervisor for the job. Each
posting should be carefully reviewed for compliance with federal and state
employment nondiscrimination laws and for conformity with the stated purpose
of the employer's job posting program (diversity, advancement from within,
etc.). The posting should also include any special prerequisites, such as
Questions of confidentiality frequently arise in relation to
job posting programs. Sometimes workers are reluctant to apply for promotions
because of a fear that if they are not selected, their current supervisor
will take a negative view of their attempt to move on. Therefore, in order
to maximize the possibility that qualified employees will respond to postings,
it is a good idea to set up a system in which the employee's privacy is protected,
at least during the initial application process. However, at some point in
the process, it will inevitably become necessary to make the employee's supervisor
aware of the potential transfer, either to seek a reference prior to a final
decision or to work out the logistics of a transfer.
Employers should determine when in the process supervisors will
be notified and clearly communicate this in their posting policy so that employees
are not taken by surprise when HR informs them that it is about to speak with
the current supervisor. Many employers decide that supervisors should be notified
either when a candidate is chosen for an interview or when a candidate is
selected as a finalist for the position.
A posting policy should include the employer's standard practice
regarding notification of applicants. Some employers notify applicants if
they are not selected to be interviewed by the hiring supervisor. Other employers
wait until an applicant has been offered the position. Ideally, all applicants
should be notified of the outcome of the process as quickly as possible. Waiting
to hear about a job (or hearing about it from the successful applicant in
the lunchroom) can be very stressful. However, some employers prefer to wait
until the person selected actually accepts the job before notifying
other candidates. In that case, the successful applicant should be counseled
to keep the job offer strictly confidential until he or she has accepted it,
and other applicants have been notified.
It is a good idea to address issues regarding the transition
from the old to the new position as a part of the job posting policy. The
way that the transition to a new position is handled can affect the decision
an employee makes regarding whether to apply for a posted position. For example,
can the successful applicant for a posted job start immediately, or must he
or she wait to be transferred or promoted until someone is found to fill the
old job? Some companies offer a 30- to 90-day trial period and allow the
successful bidder to return to the former position if the new job does not
work out well. Stating this information in the job posting policy may encourage
applicants who are hesitant to give a new job a try.