We don't reject anyone.
If (for example) Son of Sam () got out of prison and showed up looking for a job, we'd politely take his application and file it; and it would then sit in that file for sixty days, then probably get tossed (in accordance with our policy, spelled out clearly on the form that Son of Sam filled out and signed off on, that that's how long we keep applications on file). In the meanwhile, of course, chances are that Son of Sam's application wouldn't be acted upon beyond the point of his having submitted it and our having filed it, since -- if we're accepting applications at all and a staffing need comes up -- we've usually gotten at least one application from someone who isn't Son of Sam.
(Of course, in the interest of 'equal opportunity', we take care to do that with any job application that's been around for sixty days, even some that are viable, even a few from people that we'd like to have been able to hire; if we did not have a staffing need in the meanwhile for which one of the applicants would have been a good match. Chances are, with hourly jobs, any application that's more than three weeks old was submitted by someone who has since moved on and found another job, if for no better reason than he or she had to, and couldn't sit around and wait for us to get our mess together and make a decision.)
But we're not looking to reject or to 'discriminate' against Son of Sam - or anyone else. We're looking for the person who is the best match for the job. We're not going to reject people, one by one, until we find that person. We're going to go through the pile, choose several on the basis of what we feel are the likelihood that they will be that person, and continue with the screening and selection process.
(We’re certainly going to go about it without discrimination or preference on the basis of race or color, religion, personal relationship or family status, other legally protected grounds; or several other grounds that we’ve over the years identified ourselves as things people uses as a basis for wrongful preference or discrimination. Besides the fact that discrimination against someone on protected grounds is unlawful and — whether real or apparent — can bring down a bunch of legal and regulatory headaches that we don’t need, it’s just something that we don’t do. It’s inconsistent with our values as a company. It’s irrational. It’s just plain wrong.)
If at a later time, a different staffing need presents itself, maybe the others in the pile - including maybe even Son of Sam (though not likely) - may have more of a chance.
As long as the darn application form is still sitting there in your files, you haven't 'rejected' the applicant. If you feed it into a shredder after sixty days, you have done so for a "legitimate, non-discriminatory reason" (the age and, presumably, the obsolescence, of the application), provided that you do that with all applications that are more than sixty days old, equally.
But once you commit yourself to a rejection, you give a foothold - and possible leverage - to the EEOC, state human relations agencies (one of which, in one state, is quite obnoxious in its crusade for the 'rights' of ex-offenders to be employed in a hotel where they might have access to guestroom keys, which isn't going to happen in any of our own hotels); or any of a number of special interest groups who feel I owe a job to anyone who is a member of the classification of people that they represent whether I have a need or not, or even whether that person is employable or not; if they show up.
If there was one thing I wish the EEOC and state human relations agencies understood about the dynamic of staffing, and how painfully (for others, not themselves) unaware of it that they are, it is that — presumably in most any company (even if they engage in employment practices that we might feel are not altogether conducive or appropriate to it; often because, for years, that’s how the ‘human resources profession’ has been teaching them to do it), but in our company, especially — when we have a staffing need, we are out to fill it with the best person we can get who’ll be content to fill that need for as long as we need them to. We’re not out to reject, or to “deny employment” to, anyone. Whatever we do is directed at doing just that — filling the one need, with some talent left over that we might over time find additional, “icing on the cake” use for.
- We inevitably turn away people, or shred their application after sixty days, but that’s not what we’re there to do. (If I could afford to hire everyone in the world, and was ‘nice’ enough to do just that, you wouldn’t like it for long — you, and everyone else, would just be my slaves. Where would you go if you didn’t like the terms and working conditions? Or if I became unhappy with you and decided to fire you? No matter who you turned to, it would just be someone else who worked for me and would be bound by my instructions . . . Being God might be fun to think about, but we all might be better off to just let Him keep that job: it’s too many management headaches, and too much responsibility for the good and well-being of others, for me; and I don’t have that many complaints with the way He does the job, anyway . . .)
- And once we’ve filled that need, we’re happy. ‘Rejecting’ the other applicants is an unfortunate yet inevitable by-product of the job of filling the need, but is not essential to it.
- We’re out to get the person we do need on board, not to reject the other applicants. Having more people than we need show up, and having to pass over most of them, is inevitably going to happen, but it’s not what we’re out to do. (It’s unfair to generalize about an entire profession, and I have to watch myself about it, but one thing about “human resources professionals” that never quite endeared me to them as a class of people, is that way too many of them are the golden boys and alpha-girls from back in high school, and later the rush committee for their fraternity or sorority in college, who always got to decide who’s cool and who isn’t, or who’s “in” and who isn’t, and who never outgrew that . . .) We don’t go looking through every application and make an ‘accept’ or ‘reject’ decision on every one. Instead, we go through them and look for experience, and possible capabilities, that match our needs. The rest go back in the pile, and as long as they’re not quite sixty days old, we’ll look at them again whenever another need comes up.
- We don’t even like not choosing people, or passing them by. If we’re doing it right, we invariably end up with more attractive applicants than we need (we can’t always invite just one person to show up in response to that staffing need, and count on having that person be the one); and we wish that the budget would permit taking more than one, so that we could bring a few more of them on board. And we really do hope that the next time we have a need, one or more of the ones we had to turn away will come again, and won’t hold it against us that we turned them away this time, or because of that, despair at their future chances in working something out with us. The only thing that “went wrong” for them this time is that we had someone else show up that could do what we had the need for, and brought a value-add that we could make better use of, sooner rather than later.
- Everyone who works for us has accountabilities, and sometimes accountabilities within accountabilities (meaning, for people in a management or supervisory accountability, that some of their accountabilities will include the accountabilities of others, but they’re still ultimately accountable.). These can be expressed in the form of an organizational chart if someone wants to draw one, but we don’t have an organizational chart, we refuse to make one, and we’re not going to be bound by one. If we let you come around one day and study us like a bunch of bugs in a jar, and draw one, it’ll be merely a snapshot of what you saw in place that day, not a blueprint that we have to, or intend to, go by. Our accountabilites are just that, accountabilities. They’re not ‘positions’, and we discourage use of the term. A position is where something sits, and we don’t pay people to sit. I’m the CEO, and I don’t have a ‘position’ - I have an accountability. For everything. (If you check in, and your room was not altogether clean, and you have a way to get in touch with me and complain to me about it, you’re not going to let me off the hook until I offer you a solution that you’re okay with, right? Even though I’m not the maid, and it’s “not my fault”? Even though the general manager, or the housekeeping manager, or even the evening clerk, was quite capable of dealing with the problem right there at the hotel, on the spot, right? Okay, then . . .)
- Any ‘job’ that exists with our company, exists because we created it. A ‘job’ is nothing more, anyway, than a set of accountabilities for which we rely upon a single person — and in our case, we usually tailored that set of accountabilities to this person’s unique range of abilities, talents and gifts (e.g., we may have needed a ‘night auditor’, but since someone showed up who’s had training as a web developer and can help maintain our websites, guess what she’s also doing in addition to the night audit?) We always look for that in people we hire, people with abilities that exceed the immediate staffing need, that we can put to better future use than just this month’s need. The ‘job’ belongs to us, no one — not even the person now doing it — is entitled to it, and we can modify or even eliminate it if we see a need or find a way to do so.
- An anticipated, future staffing need exists only ethereally, and may not even be budgeted. We might not even be able to pay someone to do it — otherwise, we’d have someone doing it already. Any ‘job’ we have that does exist, exists at all because it is custom-created for the person that showed up and that we hired to do it. (Theoretically, if we ever lose our night auditor-web developer, we might have a bear of a time finding a replacement for her. Hotel night auditors who can do web development, or web developers who are content to work third shift and do night audit for as long as we might need them to, are hard to come by, even when both skill sets are present in a single person.) It’s not a ‘plum’ that someone can claim a right to, or even claim a right to be considered for.
- Our ‘job descriptions’ aren’t going to be too helpful to you if you want to have it some other way: they don’t exist, and we refuse to write any. We sometimes use — informally, as a descriptive term —- a job title that’s in general use (for example, we have desk clerks at our hotels, and they do what desk clerks do), but even the title doesn’t officially define the accountability: it just describes what these people spend most of their time doing. If we did have ‘job descriptions’, they’d all end with the magic words “will perform other tasks as assigned”, so what good are they, and how would it benefit us to have them? Accountabilities within accountabilites, remember?
- If you work for us, you’ll do as you’re told. If that’s a freakin’ problem for you, then there’s the freakin’ door. We don’t make desk clerks or sales staff swab toilets in the lobby restrooms just to be mean to them, to humiliate them, or to prove that we can, if we want, make them do something demeaning, unpleasant, and well outside the scope of what they anticipated being asked to do when they came to work for us. (Quite the contrary, we have a policy on power harassment by managers and supervisors that includes a strict .) But we will ask them to do it if it needs to be done and there’s no one else to do it. Conceivably, a time could come when even I could be stuck with the task.
- If you’re a talented web developer that showed up in response to our need for a night auditor, being bound by a ‘night auditor’ job description doesn’t give you much of a chance to use your talent as a web developer; and limiting you to that job description denies us the ability to benefit from it. It just gives someone else who wanted the job, or someone who wanted us to hire someone else instead, leverage to claim that we should have hired someone else, if that ‘someone else’ had met the bare minimum requirement for the night auditor job — notwithstanding that ‘someone else’s’ lack of any web development skills, or of anything else that he or she could bring to the party. It’s not an entitlement. We’re not going to create a job description that makes it an entitlement for anyone.
- And if you’re a manager, putting on an apron and rolling out a maid’s cart to clean a room may be an accountability within an accountability within an accountability for you; but if it’s an accountability within an accountability within your accountability and you don’t have someone else to do it, guess what you’re going to do?
- And because “accountabilities within accountabilities” covers darn near everything, whatever needs doing is going to be done, leaving no voids. So, we never have any ‘openings’, or ‘vacancies’; and here again, we discourage use of such terms within our company. We do not wish to create, through the use of language, a plum for people to consider themselves entitled to. We may occasionally have a staffing need, it might be helpful to hire an extra person, but that’s because it seems to be the easiest way to get whatever needs doing done. Even if we don’t fill that need, we’ll still find a way to get it done — and hopefully find a new way to do it that makes it unnecessary to hire an extra person. In any event, it’s our need, not a box on a chart, that is real, and one way or another, it’s going to be dealt with. We may occasionally add staff. But we never fill a slot, or fill an opening, or fill a vacancy, or fill a hole.
It’s maybe a little weird — and not what “human resources professionals” are used to seeing — but it works for us; and hopefully, never gives someone who thinks they’re entitled, or that we owe them a job, a foothold from which to leverage their claim; whether legally, morally or otherwise . . .
Originally appeared on Quora