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This chapter is from the book

Think twice about elimination factors.

Make sure when you consider elimination factors that you are not eliminating people who are different from you simply because they are different.

Diversity in an organization takes many forms: Product experience, gender, culture, and race are only a few of the areas where people differ from one another.

In large companies especially, elimination factors may create an unintended but real discriminatory hiring practice. Be sure to ask your corporate lawyer or someone in your Personnel Department or on the Human Resources staff whether your elimination factors might hinder diversity in your workplace. As an example of a potentially discriminatory hiring practice, consider the following: You work for a large multi-site organization. You want to hire a manager to oversee four geographically dispersed sites. You ask the question: “Are you available to travel half of the time?” That’s the correct question, but you may well be discriminating against a candidate who could successfully manage the job without traveling at all. Consider whether you can specify the position without the travel requirements to allow people who won’t or can’t travel to apply for and appropriately fill the position.

Travel can be a problem for non-managers as well. If your organization supplies on-site support to customers in a variety of locations, you may believe you require a customer-support engineer who can travel half of the time. However, by specifying travel as a requirement, you may be ruling out primary-care-givers, physically handicapped people, and more. That can be illegal. Instead of requiring travel, consider setting up alternatives such as videoconferencing, local support staff, self-diagnosing hardware, and so on.

Frequent travel may be a requirement for various categories of technical staff—systems architects, project managers, systems engineers, product managers, and senior-level designers and managers, for example—but make sure to note the reason. If you need architects or designers to travel for a week each quarter to develop the next-generation product line with their peers, that’s a different travel requirement than requiring a systems engineer to travel three weeks out of every four to a customer to elicit requirements. If you note why you require travel, you can develop effective interview questions. Then, if a candidate asks for the reasons behind the travel requirement, you can quickly and easily explain the reasons.

Make sure your elimination categories do not exclude handicapped people from your hiring process because of their disability. Discriminating against disabled people in the United States (and most other countries) is illegal, of course, but it is also foolish and shortsighted: A physical handicap most probably will not impede mental performance, and a mental handicap most probably will not impede performance of a primarily physical job.

Now that you’ve analyzed the job, it is time for you to complete the job analysis worksheet so that you can create a precise and practical job description.

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