Did Santa Clara University’s “Fake” Job Ad Save Job Seekers the Hassle of Applying?
I came across a story on Yahoo! about an interesting job posting from Santa Clara University. The job ad was seeking a Quarterly Adjunct Lecturer in English for the academic year 2014-2015. The requirements are what cause a considerable uproar from the job seeking world.
The ad said:
The successful applicant will have at least 25 books on topics ranging from the history of Silicon Valley to the biography of microprocessing to interviews with entrepreneurs to the history of human and mechanical memory; will have been published by presses such as Harper/Collins, Doubleday, Random House, St. Martin’s, and SUNY Press; will also have e-books on topics such as home life in the US, home life in the UK, and water conservation; will have worked as both a journalist for a print newspaper and for magazines; will have hosted television and radio productions for PBS, cable television, and ABC; will have worked in electronic media such as being editor of Forbes ASAP or a weekly columnist for ABC.com; will have founded or co-founded at least two start-ups; will have professional connections to Oxford University in the UK as well as to numerous media (print, electronic, and television) in the SF Bay Area and beyond. *bolded emphasis added*
At first glance, it’s pretty understandable why, after reading this job posting, the average job seeker would be confused and think, what in the world?
The Yahoo! story even joked that this role must have been intended for Oprah Winfrey.
Although Santa Clara University has since removed the listing, a story entitled, “The Ad People Noticed,” on Inside Higher Ed gives the real deal.
Apparently, this job posting already had a candidate in mind—a man named Mike Malone, “the internal candidate Santa Clara had already planned to rehire.”
The story explains that Malone really has written 25 books, and his bio was basically used to create the job listing because it was for a class he created.
The story quotes Malone as saying, “I suspect the English department did it that way just so 250 people wouldn’t waste their time sending in applications to a class that I created and which will die with me.
“Now that I think about it and see the response, I can understand why people are upset out there in blogosphere, and conversely why the English department would make something that specific.”
I read some of the comments uploaded to various articles about this incident. It seems that most job seekers are aware of regulations that require some businesses to post every job opening, even if the companies already have a candidate in mind.
Yet, the debate spurred over what Santa Clara University (and so many other employers) calls itself: an Equal Opportunity Employer.
On the one hand, you have people who understand why the university made the job ad so specific. Like Malone stated, why waste applicants’ (and the university’s) time knowing that the position was already going to be filled?
On the hand, you have those who say this practice of creating, in a sense, fake job ads isn’t upholding the Equal Opportunity Employer statement because companies don’t ever plan to consider external applicants. Worse yet, you have some businesses that do take the time to interview a few external applicants knowing full well that they plan to hire internally. They interview “for show,” which ends up wasting a job seeker’s time and effort.
Although Santa Clara University created the job posting for a particular person, I think it’s safe to assume that the university didn’t expect anyone externally to meet the requirements. So, did it really save job seekers the trouble of applying, or is this practice of creating job postings for internal hires and excluding this information—that the listing is for an internal hire—an unfair practice?