Was this recruitment process unfair or is it just sour grapes?

(7 Posts)
DebbieDoesDisgruntled Wed 13-Apr-16 00:15:15

Sorry this is quite long but I want to give the full picture.

I work in an office in Local Government. I may out myself with this but then I think it might be significant that it's Local Government as they have stricter rules and regs about fairness.

To set the scene:
I'm in a bit of a blended department where two unrelated sections were combined about 3 years ago under one manager (let's call him Charles) so that he had more staff because there was a bit of an inbalance with other managers. Let's say I'm in Section A. Since then the two sections have got to know the other staff and I've done bits of work involving Section B's work and got more familiar with what Section B do.

Three months ago, a senior member of Section B (Jim) decided he was going to retire and Charles told everyone that they were going to do an internal appointment to replace him and it would be ringfenced to staff within Sections A and B. It's very similar to my job in Section A, but with Section B's area of work, so I thought I was a good candidate. I applied and got an interview.

One of Section B's part time staff (Nicole) also applied and got an interview for Jim's full time position, so I assumed that she was coming back full time now her kids were in secondary school. She'd been an employee of Section B for about 10 years but I had a lot of experience in things she did not and vice versa so I still had a good chance.

The interviews were held and I was unsuccessful. I was disappointed but she was clearly the best on the day so I wished her good luck with the new position and no hard feelings. Charles gave me feedback afterwards, indicating that I got full marks on some of the questions but I fell down a little bit on some of the detailed knowledge of Section B's work. Fair enough. He also said that he thought I'd done loads of research and was really proud of how I'd done. He said he would have definitely appointed me had I not been up against someone who had such detailed inside knowledge. Again, fair enough and nice to hear. That's the way of the world.

Jim wasn't due to retire for 3 months so he spent that time training Nicole etc.

About 3 weeks after the interview, Charles announced another internal position available. This time the job description was not suitable for me and was clearly aimed at some of the others in Section B. It was a bit mysterious because no one had left and nothing seemed to have changed requiring a new role. There was one applicant (Nathan), he had an interview despite being the only applicant, in accordance with Local Government recruitment requirements and he obviously got the job.

Last week Jim retired and Nicole started her role proper. I noticed that she wasn't in so I asked if she was ill, but she was not. Apparently Nicole still works part time despite having applied for a full time job and I thought she had been appointed in a full time role. Also, rather than managing two members of Section B as per the job description, she's now only managing one. It turns out that the other half of the original job description and the management of the other member of staff was added to Nathan's job description and that's what he intereviewed for.

It seems that Jim's job was offered to Nicole but somehow the job description has been changed so that she only does half the original job and Nathan does the other half. Both have received pay rises. As it happens, the half that Nicole is doing is the half that I did best on according to my feedback after the interview. Her knowledge on the other half tipped the balance her way but that part is now covered by Nathan.

I find interviews and job applications very stressful and although I did well and was happy with my performance, I still found the whole process quite unpleasant on a personal level. If the job had been advertised as part time, I wouldn't have applied and would have saved myself a lot of stress. Conversely though, if Nicole is unable to work full time, why did she then apply for a full time position and then was appointed? At the very least, I feel that a job share should have been on the table as the role is of a nature that wouldn't discount that.

I've graciously sat with my gob shut whilst enduring the last 3 months of Nicole being trained in Jim's job just a couple of desks away, swallowing the disappointment and trying to get on with my life. She was better than me on the day or so I thought. However, I've come away today feeling quite royally shafted. They bang on about process and fairness in local government but it seems that strings can be pulled when the face fits.

I feel really sad and disappointed so please be kind. I'm wondering whether to speak to my union rep about it or whether I just need to accept that life is unfair and try and move on.

BackforGood Wed 13-Apr-16 00:37:17

Um - I can't see that the employers have done anything wrong here.
You are entitled to apply for a job that needs doing FT, even if you only want to work PT - it's up to the panel then to decide if the PT person's skills / apptitude / knowledge / experience are the ones they want, and, if so, how they are going to then manage the rest of the workload. Which it seems they have done.

I'm sorry you didn't get the job, but all the stuff you talk about in the first half of your post still applies. I can't see what your union rep would be able to do.

tava63 Wed 13-Apr-16 01:30:37

It does seem that the process was not as transparent as you would expect in Local Government, particularly in how the second role came up. Is what BackforGood says true in relation to policy? As an external candidate seeking a part time role in a government agency I have not been permitted to apply for full time roles and someone I know working part time for that same government agency has not been able to apply for advertised full time roles because she can only work 4 days a week max.

Even if the policy allows for this it was not good management practice not to let you know that the role was being restructured, but let's face it a lot of bad practice does go on.

flowery Wed 13-Apr-16 08:21:55

"At the very least, I feel that a job share should have been on the table as the role is of a nature that wouldn't discount that."

Well yes I would agree that being clearer at the beginning that a job share was an option would have been better. But surely that wouldn't have benefited you anyway? That would have benefited someone else who currently works part time and didn't apply because the role was full time. If there is such a person, then they could complain, I agree.

They decided that they preferred Nicole doing it as a job share with someone else rather than you doing it full time. They are allowed to make that decision.

You say you were fine about the decision when you thought Nicole was increasing her hours and doing it full time, but now you realise she's doing it as a job share you feel shafted and think it's unfair. That doesn't really make an awful lot of sense really.

They would have known during the recruitment process that Nicole wasn't going to do the role full time, and they decided at that time, with that knowledge, that she was the better candidate. According to the manager, if you'd had better inside knowledge you may have pipped her at the post. There's no reason to think that isn't the case.

I'm not sure what complaining would get you really, especially because the only thing I think could be argued they did 'wrong' wouldn't have benefited you anyway.

DebbieDoesDisgruntled Wed 13-Apr-16 09:07:20

Thank you for your responses. I am aware that I might not be thinking it through properly due to some emotional responses to the whole thing, so I really appreciate the points people are making.

flowery I think my niggling resentment about it is that the questions asked in the interview were relevent to the original job description. During my feedback, the questions that (I think) were most relevent to the role that Nicole now has are the ones that I did best on, in fact I was told I got full marks on, and the questions that she pipped me to the post on are the ones that are no longer relevent. It's hard to explain how things work round here, but if a job share had been offered up, there's a possibility we could have worked something out so I could share some of the role, but that opportunity was never an option. Even a bit of a pay rise for 2 days a week would be nice as I don't get paid a lot... but that's an aside really.

On the face of it, immediatley changing the job description and working pattern before someone has even started their role just doesn't seem right to me. However, your responses have helped me lean towards the fact that life is sometimes unfair and it would be best to move on. Perhaps it's better not to work in Section B afterall anyway.

onlywhenyouleave Wed 13-Apr-16 09:17:05

I also cannot see what the employer has done wrong. I work in the public sector and jobs are generally advertised full time but candidates can negotiate reduced hours if the employer wants to consider it.

So does Nathan only work part time aswell? I assume the job he got was advertised as part-time?

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Wed 13-Apr-16 09:26:57

Nicole got the job through better performance on the day overall - the feedback given you was intended to be supportive and helpful, but essentially she ticked more boxes than you. It's not really relevant that she knew more about team B's work and I think you need to discount that from your thinking. She was better. The only reason her performance was broken down in that way was to give you constructive feedback on your performance, iyswim.

Nicole then negotiated part time hours - good for her.

Where it gets iffy is actually in Nathan's role. Nicole going part time created a job share opportunity, which then should have been properly advertised as such. I'm guessing that part of things wasn't hugely transparent, given how you describe it. Feedback could be given there, because they probably didn't reach the pool of job-share candidates in the organisation because of adding the other bit of the job to Nathan's JD.

Once you then have the two people in place, you chop up the responsibilities and that has nothing to do with strengths in interview. You may decide that precisely because Nicole is so strong wrt team B's workload, you want her to develop her knowledge of team A. Or it could be as simple as certain work processes require her to be there, so the job's been shaped round availability.

You have been disadvantaged in that you didn't get the opportunity to apply for the extra responsibility that went to Nathan, imo. That process wasn't fair or clear.

But you've been no way disadvantaged by Nicole changing the role to pt.

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