I was working in the talent acquisition department, and my responsibilities included full cycle recruitment activities for multiple business lines, including human resources and payroll. In other words, I had to post jobs, screen resumes, work with hiring managers to determine the selection tools and strategies, coordinate interviews, and extend offers. This is worth mentioning because getting a position in HR at this company was like winning the lottery as turnover was extremely low. Everyone, internally and externally, wanted to work in the department so I anticipated a high number of applicants anytime a position became available. I reviewed resumes submitted by my colleagues or former HR employees – no pressure, right? The entire recruitment process for vacancies in our line of business was stressful because it required high levels of confidentiality, integrity, and accuracy.
One morning I noticed a pending requisition for a position in payroll. I squinted at the screen to make sure I was seeing my dashboard correctly. This was the first requisition submitted for an HR/Payroll position since the requirements changed. Here’s a little background. A team of executives appointed several of us from HR, including yours truly, to form a career development team. Our objective was to review all HR job descriptions and salaries, benchmark against similar jobs in the industry, and present our recommendations to upper management. A four-year degree requirement was implemented to align with requirements found in the industry. Employees who didn’t have a degree were grandfathered in and the new requirements were applied to all subsequent job postings.
I didn’t start screening resumes until the day after the position closed, but I frequently monitored the number of applicants while the job was posted so that I could plan for the amount of time needed for review. A day or two before the posting closed, I noticed an internal candidate had applied. But she wasn’t just any internal candidate. She had worked in the payroll department several years before I started working there. She had transitioned into the finance department, but for whatever reason she wanted to come back. I have no issue with anyone wanting to get that old thing back – I’ve tried a time or two myself, but she didn’t present herself as someone on a career path. She was what I call a chronic poster – someone who applies to any and every position with hopes of getting one without any strategy or thought into why they applied in the first place. If you didn’t know, most applicant tracking systems list all the jobs you’ve applied to so HR can see every.single.position you’ve applied for at that company. This can be a turn off for hiring managers – especially if the jobs are in different departments and/or functions. It comes across very desperate; you don’t want the job because you have genuine interest in that industry but for some other reason like better work hours or higher pay.
So I’m screening resumes and I get to the internal applicant; I’ll call her Kim. Her resume looks like every other resume she has submitted meaning she did not make updates to highlight her skills relating to the job. The main thing I noticed was she did not have a four-year degree. The new job description was not written to allow equivalent experience in lieu of a degree so I had to send her a “thanks but no thanks” letter. You know the ones; they start with “although your skills are impressive” and end with “continue to view our job board for future opportunities.” To say she was pissed is an understatement! She started an email war with me accusing me of not looking at her resume and giving her credit for the time she previously worked in the department.
By this time, I felt a phone conversation was warranted. I explained to her the new requirements and sent her a copy. She was not feeling anything I had to say, but I thought it was a dead issue after we hung up. Before long, everybody in the company was approaching me about the situation. I was limited on what I could discuss with them because I didn’t talk about the status of anyone’s resume, but she obviously told them because they were able to recite the conversations that I had with her.
A few days go by and someone from our labor relations department told me that a discrimination complaint had been filed against me. I was confused because Kim is also a black female so I couldn’t figure out how she accused me of this. Now, I was pissed! I was pissed because anyone who knows me know I go hard in the paint for women – especially women of color. I cheer, support, and encourage women all of the time. This chick was assassinating my character, and my hands were tied because I respected the confidentiality that was required. I was beyond frustrated, and I wasn’t going to take it anymore!