Wanted: superhumans

Jun 29 2005 by Charles Helliwell Print This Article

Have you ever done the following exercise ? Take a page of job ads; cut off the company logos and corporate flannel surrounding each and just read the copy relating to the job ads.

You'll find it almost impossible to differentiate between them, other than the obvious functional differences required for a CEO, Marketing Director, Financial Analyst or Sales Manager. The messages contained within all of them say pretty much the same thing.

"We are a FTSE100...$2Bn turnover...650+/- staff...growing rapidly... successful... sustainable... recognised as a brand or market leader in their field... enviable track record... award winning... and so on... and so on... and so on.

"We seek experienced, talented and energetic individual, with empathy and understanding and a proven track record to tackle a humongous task in return for squillions, a fancy title and a long-term career in the promised land... blah-de-blah-de-blah."

So just who are the winners and losers in this pathetic little exercise ?

The company ? Well not if you consider that most experience a less-than 10 per cent retention of staff hired this way within the probation periods defined.

The employee ? Doubtful, given the statistic above and the uncertainty of stepping out of the frying pan into the fire.

YES...there really are only two winners. The media companies who derive huge profits from running such advertisements. Wasn't there an analysis last year which suggested that no less than 35 per cent of the Sunday Times' profit margins came from their 'Appointments' supplement. And, of course, those altruistic merchants of human capital, the recruitment consultancies.

How different it all might be were there more 'honesty in advertising'. Honesty in advertising ? Now who's being naive ? But when was the last time someone had sufficient courage to run an Ad looking for Superhumans to undertake Mission Impossible ?

Actually it was in 1914 and the Ad read as follows:

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success."

It elicited over 5000 responses for just 28 jobs and was placed by Sir Ernest Shackleton, often cited as one of the most inspirational leaders of the twentieth century.

Perhaps business leaders of today could learn much for such undiluted honesty in their search for the 'Right Stuff'.

About The Author

Charles Helliwell
Charles Helliwell

For almost 20 years, Charles Helliwell has been enjoying a lifestyle and making a living as a behavioural and relationship mentor specialising in the personal and professional development of individuals and teams in the workplace.