Should you accept applications for unavailable jobs?

Maintenance Foreman Ben Graff ran into a problem that was all too familiar. When Electrician Grade I Peter Rifkin unexpectedly opted for early retirement, giving his boss one week's notice, it put Graff in a spot.


Maintenance Foreman Ben Graff ran into a problem that was all too familiar. When Electrician Grade I Peter Rifkin unexpectedly opted for early retirement, giving his boss one week's notice, it put Graff in a spot. Rifkin was a key man with specialized training and experience. Graff had no one on hand to replace him.

An ad for an electrician with Rifkin's qualifications was immediately placed in the local newspaper. and an employment agency in town was contacted. About two dozen applicants were interviewed over a 3-wk period, but not one was qualified. The work schedule fell further and further behind.

Plant Engineer Harry Granville called the foreman on the carpet to find out what was causing the backlog. Graff explained it had been triggered by the lack of a qualified replacement for Rifkin.

"Why hadn't a replacement been groomed?"

"There were no openings available. Rifkin's retirement wasn't anticipated. I didn't think it was right to build hopes for a promotion when no prospect of advancement existed."

Granville frowned. "Your rationale makes sense. This isn't the first time we ran into a bind like this in Maintenance and other departments. We'll have to do something to avoid its recurrence."

Question : What do you think might prevent a situation like this in the future?

Granville's solution: The plant manager set up a procedure that encouraged employees to apply for promotion even though no vacancies existed. It was made clear to the applicants that there were no current openings, and participation was voluntary. Under the new system, when a vacancy does occur or appears imminent, applications on file are reviewed, and those most eligible considered. In addition to better preparedness, the system provides an incentive for applicants to optimize their performance in the hope that they will be judged the best qualified.

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