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A Question For Recruiters (or Anyone That Knows)

February 24, 2016

There’s something I’m seeing in job ads that I’m curious about. With so many recruiters talking about how hard it is to find the right people, there’s an additional restriction I’ve been seeing in job ads that I’m wondering about. Since I’m usually looking for customers, not for a job, I don’t know when the practice started or what it’s about but it puzzles me.

The First Time I Saw It
When I first moved to Ann Arbor, a friend of mine saw a job here in Ann Arbor that they thought would be perfect for me. I wasn’t looking to find a job, here, because I had ongoing customers that I was working with. Out of curiosity, though, I read the job ad.

Shockingly, he was right – it was just about perfect for me! As I read more and more of the job ad, I almost felt as if someone had read my resume and written a job ad just for me! It was strange.

Until I got to the bottom of the job ad where it required me to be able to lift 75 pounds. Having been a scrawny weakling my entire life, I just stopped reading. I felt a bit skeptical where the customer said that the person should be required to carry things around their site, because the job was an office job working with software and such, but I figured there must be something special about what they were doing, there.

More of These
Since then, I’ve stumbled across yet more of these requirements in job ads. And the job ads I tend to sometimes look at are usually for LIMS or ELN people, where we wouldn’t need to lift anything except possibly a laptop. Since I really have not been looking seriously for these jops, just looking to see who has what LIMS or ELN system, actually, I haven’t thought much about this.

My Question
As I see this requirement, more and more, what is the reason behind it? Do any of you readers know? If so, please comment.

To the casual reader, my first thought is that this is meant to get around the Americans with Disabilities act and make sure that no-one with any type of real physical disability applies for these jobs. Or, that they’re trying to exclude anyone a bit weaker. Depending on the weight requirements, possibly that they don’t want women or older people to apply, for example,

But I really have no idea. I’m curious if anyone can tell the rest of us why there are these additional restrictions when so many recruiters complain about how hard it is to find qualified people.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises
http://www.GeoMetrick.com/

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2016 11:16 am

    It started appearing about 10 years ago, much more common now, I don’t even notice it anymore. My cynical guess is, it is used to weed out disabled applicants. Employment among the disabled has dropped since the ADA, and my guess (again), is that companies look at these applicants as a potentially unknown cost and don’t want the risk.

  2. February 24, 2016 11:17 am

    the timing coincides with the ADA amendments act, which actually includes lifting

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americans_with_Disabilities_Act_of_1990#ADA_Amendments_Act.2C_2008

  3. February 24, 2016 11:21 am

    Well for sure you don’t have to be able to bench press while holding a couple of Dell PowerEdge servers (other servers available!) to work on software or configure solutions for clients at our place: http://www.autoscribeinformatics.com/about-us/careers

    Seems totally irrelevant to most LIMS development or configuration roles so you have to suspect don’t you…

  4. February 24, 2016 11:44 am

    maybe they don’t understand what people mean when they say they are looking for someone who can “do the heavy lifting” on a project… sorry couldn’t resist…

  5. February 24, 2016 12:01 pm

    groan… (hey, someone had to respond to that!)

  6. Charles Moore permalink
    February 24, 2016 12:11 pm

    The only explanation I’ve ever gotten when I’ve asked is that they are using some generic template for all IT job duties. And that generic boilerplate include the need to service hardware. Laser printers can be fairly heavy. But servers can easily hit the 75 lbs. mark if you leave all the drives, etc., installed.

    So for the staff responsible for racking servers, that weight requirement makes sense. And the HR team responsible for the job listing either doesn’t realize that LIMS admins are not hardware folks, or the team is small enough that they expect LIMS admins to serve as general IT staff, up to and including racking servers.

    On a side note, the boxes servers come in ALWAYS mark servers as “team lift” items. No one should be trying to rack a 75 lbs server on their own without some kind of help.

  7. February 24, 2016 12:48 pm

    Well I just moved a rack-mounted server UPS, those get pretty heavy.

    However I suspect your first thought is/was correct. What I learned from my time working in government is that there is nothing so easy to manipulate as a rigid binding rule. Once you find the correct compatible phraseology, no power on earth can keep the manipulation from happening.

    In the hardware and construction world, both government and commercial, there is an art to manipulative specification writing. Manufacturers give you a suggested specification to include for let’s say this type of valve. Sometimes it includes an obscure innocuous phrase that limits the selection to that one vendor. For example “with a thumbscrew to lock the pressure setting” (when all other vendors use a philips screw). The spec appears objective but has a specific result. I know of one government procurement where the losing vendor sued, claiming the requirement for “virtual memory” in a processor (this was long ago) was arbitrary. It took a lot of work for the staff to prove it was needed.

    Then too, I have seen certain “requirements” for a LIMS added just to limit the selection to the chosen vendor.

    Opinions vary as to what is right or wrong

  8. February 24, 2016 1:38 pm

    A couple more comments people have made to me outside this blog, that I’ll just include, here:

    Drop-down boxes: Applicant management systems have dropdown boxes with requirements for the jobs. It could be that someone accidentally picked the wrong thing from the drop-down.

    Templates: Another person suggested that companies sometimes create just a few templates that they basically cut-and-paste into (or build into, depending on the tool used for this) and that the templates sometimes aren’t refined for various jobs or that the wrong template is actually used.

  9. Howard Eichenwald permalink
    February 24, 2016 1:47 pm

    Years ago, ads used to say attach a picture to your resume. One way to screen out minorities.

    Use the zip code from the address and see what part of the city they live – is it in a bad or poor neighborhood?

    Anyone can lift or move 75 pounds, if it is one pound at a time.

  10. February 24, 2016 5:03 pm

    I agree with the poster MB. This is a way to screen out folks with disabilities. I have started seeing this a lot more on job postings as well and it is so common, I would think there must have been a law suit about it that now causes this to take place.

    The more you control something, the more out of control it gets and the tighter the grip on sand the more sand pours from your hands. The government regulates against discrimination and the more shadow discrimination takes place and we wonder why there is so much under employment.

  11. March 12, 2016 10:31 am

    are trying to avoid any type of discrimination, so often seeing that stuff on a resume can make recruiters feel uncomfortable. We just want to know about things that pertain to your work history. So please take your photo off your resume.

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