No-one from the north need apply!

These days, I am rarely surprised by anything that goes on in the corporate world. Once in a while, though, something comes along that makes me go ‘What the…?!’

I had one of those moments this morning when Simon Jones tweeted a link to this job ad, which is looking for:

A Leadership and Talent specialist with a proven track record, specifically from the South who is looking to relocate to the North West of England. If you are based from Lands End to Middle England (below Birmingham) then we would love to hear from you.

So more or less anywhere in the blue area then, though they don’t mention South Wales.

Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 13.04.20

After I posted this a week or so ago, some people told me that the North-South divide is a myth. Clearly it isn’t as far as these recruiters are concerned.

I would be fascinated to know what their thinking was and why they came to the conclusion that they needed to source this role from southern England.

As ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Update: I’m told by the recruiter that they only have a remit to recruit from the south as another firm is doing the north. In which case, I apologise for mis-interpreting this job ad. That said, the fact that so many others have done so too suggests that it could, perhaps, have been worded a bit differently.

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13 Responses to No-one from the north need apply!

  1. Pingback: No northerners need apply! - Rick - Member Blogs - HR Blogs - HR Space from Personnel Today and Xpert HR

  2. GrumpyLecturer says:

    Needs some further research but a possible reason may lay in the individualism-collectivism debate. May be interesting to research if any academic work, such as that of Hofstede’s ‘cultural dimensions theory’, has been done on the UK. This would show if certain areas of the UK are prone to individualist or collectivist cultures.

    With Human Resource Management firmly entrenched in an individualist culture then possibly demanding personnel from a specific UK location may be valid.

  3. TickyW says:

    Eeeee, bah gum! It be a rum do, that be.

  4. P Hearn says:

    What’s wrong with an advert for a southerner?

    If that’s what they want, why shouldn’t they say so?

    Surely better to be honest about it and save everyone a lot of time?

    Nobody said recruitment has to have any basis in logic.

    • It doesn’t have to have any basis in logic, but it does need to be within the law. A recruitment agency can be sued if it illegally discriminates between candidates, even if this originates from conditions laid down by the client, and even if the client can show that their selection process is not itself discriminatory because they haven’t imposed the same conditions on other agencies working the job.

      • P Hearn says:

        Appreciate the law says all that about discrimination – that wasn’t really my point. It was simply that choosing who you recruit is perhaps the buyer’s prerogative, and they’ll do it regardless of what the law says.

        One might think they’re being silly in excluding whole swathes of people on arbitrary lines, but just saying folks are strange,

        The idea that they’ve divided the country into patches between two agencies could be a very clever ruse, or perhaps it’s just co-incidence. An application from an RP speaker living in the north would soon establish that.

  5. Recrutiment firms divide up “patches” between different offices and teams, but these are based on the client, not the candidate. The idea that a client has deliberately given the job to two separate agencies, with mutually-exclusive resourcing areas, strains belief.

    Given that this appears to be a HR job, I can only speculate that they’ve got a preferred suppliers list and need to meet quota on jobs assigned, however they clearly don’t understand how recruitment works (ironic, no?).

    In practice, the use of job boards means that an agency cannot narrow down its candidate resourcing – they’ll respond from everywhere – so the idea that you can channel “local people for local jobs” through one agency and “relocators” through another is bonkers.

    This smells.

  6. Simon Jones says:

    I think we may be in danger of reading too much “conspiracy” into this. I read the tweet from the recruitment consultant as being that the company was using its own networks to source candidates from the north, but had asked this agency to source candidates from the south of England.

    That said, it shows three major errors
    1) The employer appears not to have heard of the internet. They could have recruited direct (or used an agency) and targeted candidates nationally with ease. They seem to have taken the view that they would place an ad in some local/regional source but that this wouldn’t get to candidates from further afield so needed agency support. Sensible in 1990, daft in 2013.
    2) The agency is at fault for not pointing this out to their client. From the outside it appears as though they are an organisation who simply want sales through filling jobs “by volume”, rather than offer strategic support and advice to their clients
    3) They compounded this by an incredibly poorly worded advert. I read it twice before I tweeted it just to make sure that I wasn’t misreading it or being too sensitive. The twitter reaction to it suggests I wasn’t.

  7. Roger White says:

    Yes, I agree with you that the original wording was at best ambiguous. If your original, understandable, interpretation had been correct, would it not also have been potentially discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010? It would certainly have excluded the vast majority of Scots and Welsh who live in their own countries.

    As for P Hearn’s assertion that ‘choosing who you recruit is perhaps the buyer’s prerogative, and they’ll do it regardless of what the law says, er, is this practice really widespread among both employers and the recruitment consultants who serve them? Perhaps he or she will come back and tell me my question’s naive. I’d ask a further question – which other laws do you think it acceptable for an employer to break?

    • P Hearn says:

      Your question isn’t naive.

      My point was really that we all discriminate every day in making decisions about what we buy in our personal lives. You might choose Apple over Samsung, Prada over Gucci, Heinz over Tesco own label. That’s perfectly fine, and it’s called consumer power.

      It struck me that it’s odd that one isn’t allowed to express a preference as a buyer of labour in a job advertisement, even though it’s probably known by the buyer what they want. One can no longer say “experienced person required” for example because this discriminates against the young and inexperienced and is age discrimination.

      Well, if a business wants an experienced person, that’s probably what they’ll recruit, and the inexperienced are wasting their time applying. It just struck me that perhaps this was an outbreak of honesty on the part of a recruiter, regardless of the logic or desirability of it.

      Murder is illegal, but it still happens. We can have as many equality acts and other legislation, but it won’t change human nature, however sad that might be.

      • It is perfectly legal to specify “experience” as a criterion when recruiting, so long as it relates to a demonstrable skill or achievement, e.g. “3+ years experience of managing teams” or “experience of pair-programming”. What you can’t do is specify criteria that are just a proxy for age, e.g. “recent graduate” or “mature”.

        • P Hearn says:

          Yes – accepted. One would be foolish to place a job ad these days without having it checked for compliance.

          Just seems to me that there’s something rather Orwellian about it, but probably just me.

  8. I think the idea that legislation is not/has not ‘changed human nature’ is profoundly pessimistic and not my experience. Although we may have plenty of distance yet to cover there is no doubt that issues of race, gender and sexuality are treated very differently now by many employers than they were thirty years ago.
    Most of all, the practices of recruitment and employment are not the same as buying a mobile phone: people are not commodities.

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