Should we have an industry wide blacklist to better evaluate job applicants?

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Call this the evil post of the day.

Every company has its share of horror stories with regards to hiring and professional employees. We provide training solutions on professionalism so we know the kind of painful unprofessional employees our IT industry deals with.

Despite following structured interviewing techniques, we have still stacked up our list of people to just not consider again.

The question is: Shouldn’t there be a way for the entire IT industry to “post” their blacklists into a common pool so all of the HR departments can share within themselves?

Think about the benefits for a second: I can goto a website, enter an NIC and get an immediate history of the candidate and his comments from other employers. For candidates, they could only swindle a company once or twice, because after that we would just know he wouldn’t be able to do anything.

There are other types of issues they can solve as well. Currently, the way companies opt to build some insurance for their hiring is to (1) ask for transcripts / job letters from previous employers and (2) check references. The basic reasons this is not an effective method is (1) Most Work Experience letters are too general (2) If I need someone desperately, I may not care too much about whether his basic credentials hold up

However, if some applicant burned me, wasted my time, worked for a week and stole things (that has actually happened with colleagues), then I would certainly ensure that I write this into the central blacklist so that atleast other companies dont have to suffer this fate.

I think there would be two different ways of approaching this:

1- Make it community driven
I may not want to know what company XYZ thought about a candidate because I could be in an unrelated field (e.g. Call Centers to Product Dev). But I would care who my trusted circle of colleagues have come across and are warning me about.

So perhaps we can have a way for groups of companies to form small networks where they can share their lists. This could make the system self balancing and protect companies from vandalism — if I invite someone into the group, then I am somewhat responsible for that person’s actions..

2- Make it completely anonymous.
Dont give me the company names, or the candidate names. Let me search on an NIC number, and give me completely anonymous comments from other companies. Then give my company a password to the system only if I register on PSEB.

There are some issues with things like this, where evil HR Managers could vandalise the system by, e.g. putting up their boss in the blacklist in case they’re having a bad day (yes, that has happened!)

But I think if the system is decentralized (as in #1 above), and you let people only maintain blacklists with small trusted groups, then this can be solved. See I would be able to detect any anomalies in the system much better than the system or service provider (e.g. PSEB) could, since I would know the other people in the group.

The overall question is: Is it fair on these poor candidates trying to make a living, to not give them another chance and stop their entire career based on minor mistakes?

From my perspective, yes. As much as we would like we are not charitable organizations — business is business, and I would rather protect the business of my partners because of someone who disrupts mine. Ofcourse, there would also need to be some good way of adding positive feedback about that employee as well to add the element of “giving another chance”

What do you think? Should companies seriously get together to attempt this? It would be good to get some thoughts from PSEB on this as well

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30 Comments

  • one simple thought….
    i have seen you always complaining about not getting the right persons for the job in Pakistani market I dont think black listing would be that much of a help.
    Quality of education at our uni/college is so poor. Most of the IT graduates are unfimilira with the business terms and issues, they only know coding, IMHO they are not only one to blame, people like you sould step forward and train the ppl soo that they can be more productive. You post value able information.
    business is busniess wat if u dont get the qualified ppl you want for the job???
    isnt it better you hire some nearly 80-90% candiate and train it to ur 100% requiremnet.
    it would be a valueable adition to industry and ur company.

  • Hi Nausheen,

    Thanks for the comments. I have a “professionalism” tag with a set of 24 free lessons and I hope people read those carefully for some basic tips.

    We do actively mentor the people who work for us, and I am happy that my team is now getting up to speed with the quality of their work.

    But I have a question for you, because it is based on something that has happened in this industry (I assure you not to us)…

    What do you do about the person who joins a company, in three days steals confidential info and sells it to the US for $70,000?

    Or what about the person who starts blackmailing the IT company’s customers that their data will be shared with their competitors unless THEY convince the IT company to give THAT person a raise?!

    Or the person who signs a contractual agreement with a firm, and breaks it the next day…?

    There are people in this industry that are beyond training on services or on professionalism… the trouble with those people are that they are unwilling to believe that their point of view about professional work could be wrong.

    If a person is willing to look at work as an area of growth, then a mix of mentoring and training and convert the worst of attitudes, but for companies who do wish to get on with business, I argue that it would be just worth blacklisting those people and saving the trouble for all the fellow companies.

    As a side note, only this industry is plagued with such immaturity — from what I hear the hospitality industry (hotels etc) are much more professional and take shared vested interest (wirh or without equity) into their work.

  • Correction on the above: “It would just be worth blacklist those people” refers to those people are just 5-10% professional and steal and run around breaking contracts and not communicating their grievances as a team

  • well You are right in many ways,
    but see the other way around as well,
    companies like Elixir, abundand its QA dept. some time back, and One day ppl in dept had jobs next morning the whole dept was fired with out any notice, only reason thier american counter parts dint need services of QA any more, they didnt pay a sigle penny for the compensation
    wats your view point abt this behavior, shount be their another black list of companies who treat their employees badly…

  • Hello Nausheen,

    What you will also find is that I am a big advocate of companies taking care of their employees – you can find some of this on my recent posts about Rozee : http://greenwhite.wordpress.com/2007/02/12/rozee-firing-on-all-engines-and-getting-better-every-day/

    There are a lot of IT companies who do not respect their employees enough. However, there are a LOT of employees who do not respect their profession at all!

    The essence of professionalism starts with trying to become a part of whatever team you join. As a fundamental, anyone who is only thinking about himself at the sheer disregard of the company that is helping him pay the bills, would eventually just cause trouble wherever he works.

    The ethical and moral decisions that help create highly effective teams will be missing.

    I agree with you that this needs to be a balance, and in the Rozee post I explicitly suggest that Rozee should add a mutual rating system for both employers and employees.

  • This does sound like a decent idea to have such information available for employers during hiring process. But what steps can be taken to ensure that information posted about potential employees is correct? Just wanted to state that what if an employer or manager posts something which is totally untrue about an employee? What kind of safeguards can be implemented to prevent such actions by employers?
    In addition an employer should expect all employees to conform to highest ethical and professional standards but it just seems like its easy to punish an employee (individual) who might not conform to such standards then an employer itself. e.g. in US if you goto Forbes or cnn.money sites one can easily find “most admired” and “least admired” companies to work for but even having companies listed in “least admired” people are still working for such employers. But if there is such a list or database is put together in my humble opinion career of an employee/individual can be potentially over. Thanks

  • Amir,

    That really is the big question because unfortunately there are some employers that do that. I believe that if employers share their lists within trusted circles as I mentioned, and if one candidates “F” rating in one circle is independent of his/her rating elsewhere, this *could* work. The theory being that most managers would create trusted circles from within companies that represent similar but non-competing hiring trends.

    Nevertheless, safeguarding against malice is an important step to build, and maybe the community can share some light on it (or I could when I have had enough coffee in me).

    For the final comment (on ruining people’s careers), honestly there are people that deserve it. In my book any one person who is dishonest and outright lying to the boss to get ahead deserves a stop, and I will be the first to blacklist him from the industry if I could.

    However, more fairly, if the system is in place and the brand is established, then all employees that ARE leaving a company on a good note can request them to “add a recommendation to the ‘industry candidate review’ instead of a letter of recommendation”.

    Enough thumbs up and we he can rebuild a shattered credibility.

    So how doesn’t someone give a blacklisted person another chance? Hmm… the bigger question is how do you stop people from outright lying? Most of the solutions require *some* degree of honesty on either side…

  • Sardar Jalal Ahmed Khosa

    After reading all this, i just think you a pathetic looser. You shout business business but dont know even the abc of demand supply. If a person(due to his skills) is in demand, no blacklist prevents him to get employed. Its all about money.
    You need help babes. and btw on what rocket science you are working. Pakistan has enough talent in CS.

  • I shout Professionalism Professionalism as well, Sardar, and unless you are willing to write an objective comment which actually presents your point of view in a logical format, we wont get anywhere. I WOULD like to know what qualifies you to be so confident in your point of view as well.

    If a certain skill set is in demand, the salary of that POST will rise *provided* that there is limited amount of *good* supply of candidates. However, if your supply channel is unreliable (see the Donald Trump post) then there is an economic incentive for the people downstream to insource the resource or find other suppliers, irrespective of how “in demand” that particular supplier feels about himself.

    In fact come to think about it, if Knowledge Talent were a similar supply-chain to consumer electronics (which it might become in 4 years or so) then there is also an economic incentive to tell your close relationships and partners about unreliable suppliers.

    As much as I’d like to believe that its all about money, I’d prefer to say that its about the economic value created from people working together.

    Hope this helps. Cheers.

  • indeed this is evil post :) i am against it as it would create so much frustration in candidates (and you cannot predict one’s mental ability – some may end up hanging themselves once they know they are blacklisted in IT…). Who is going to take responsability of this fuss which may (indeed it will) be created by this step.

    Besides, even i dont find right candidates but i stick to learning+positive attitude personals and train them to our needs.

  • I am not sure this would be a good idea. I am in the industry since last 10 years and have seen loads of trends going up and down the hill. I am always short of skilled people but you know it is a global norm.

    Smart people are aware of their worth and will switch to better prospects if present employer is not smarter enough to retain them. On the other hand lying in CV and bluffing in interviews is order of the day.

    By black listing a person outright, we may push him/her to suicide, considering the rate of unemployment in our part of the world. Instead of being so harsh, why not provide proper counseling and training to a fresh graduate. Excluding few tier 1 academic institutions I see a lack of career guidance system everywhere. A fresh grad is unaware of market demand as well as his/her capabilities and usually tries to go with the crowd. This leads to high failure rate.

    For example, few years back government decided to go Java and started teaching Java everywhere. It was so hyped up that everybody started to take up Computer Science and Java. The result, may be 100,000 learned Java but perhaps only 1% earned necessary skills to fetch a job.

    Unfortunately majority of employers negate the role of recruitment agencies and try to save a quick buck by going for direct hiring. As most of these employers lack adequate HR and technical capabilities, they often hire a person who is less qualified for the position.

    My point basically is that on hand we have to strengthen student career counseling process and support internship programs and on other hand the employers should use professional recruitment agencies (in absence of internal capacity) to hire best match for the job.

  • Wow didn’t think of that extreme. Thanks for the insight guys.

    Kashif, I couldn’t agree more about student career counseling. The questions is: how do we convince the student that counseling will benefit them more than the uncle who’ll get them a job :)

    In other words, the students also have to want someone to be a mentor and guide for their career.

    Sometimes I meet young grads who believe they are absolutely right for having followed the crowd and listened to their peers. The reason it is disappointing is when they aren’t looking at a bigger perspective, or examples like the Java one your quoted.

  • Osama, i agree with kashif more as i feel the students don’t realize how small this IT in pakistan is if they do a blunder at one place they are automatically black listed to some extent. i will share my example, i interviewed and individual he was brilliant had some job experience, you know its not hard to find some one through your network to investigate, i found some one to do a back ground check on him in his previous company, got a vey bad recommendation the guy did not get his job. so partialy this is happening i know a lot of other will be doing this un-officially too. but how to judge a studend with no past record, i have seen a student come here sign the contract. for our company the approval process inside the organization is very lengthy you we have a matrix going from lahore to india to europe and finally US. and that guy did not show up on first day of job. Imagine the embarasement i had to face to my peers in other parts of the world. then after 6 months that person again applied for the job. offcourse did not get called but you see these students don’t know the damage they are doing to them selves by these small steps. some body not coming for an interview and not calling to cite a reason make the worst impression i personally don’t call them again. on their end they think its harmless (i confirmed their point of view by asking a fresh student who is younger brother of a friend).

    you have a very good platform to start this. i am ready to guide new students personally, you maybe able to channel the correspondence through your website

  • Osama: About career counseling, well, it is pretty much successful at the institutions that are doing it. Now, it is responsibility of the corporates and recruitment agencies (though we don’t have many around) to come forward and play their roles. I am all for open houses by corporates to educate students and fresh grads about prospective positions and skill requirements. Organizations have to invest in this if they want to hire the right candidate the first time.

    Instead of having a job fair where people just throw their CVs around, why not organize a forum where blue chips, software houses and other employers meet with students and counsel them?

  • Here’s an idea: Why not do that here?

    Corporates can come here and write as a Guest about guiding people to the appropriate career paths — this is as large an Open House and forum as can get for these type of things…

    Kashif, you want to encourage your firm to be the first in this? :)

    Osama.

  • about the blacklisting bit, I just have to say that employees who turn out to be a wrong choice does not necessarily mean that the person is not a good professional and does not know how to get his job done. A number of issues contribute. When a person joins a firm, he comes with this set of mind. He has expectations. He has a vision. When he doesn’t get what he expected he’ll get than trust me, he does not enjoy what he’s doing. I mean lets be honest. There are no in depth HR policies implemented in our country. Who bothers about working conditions, job repetition, incentives, bonuses.
    I wont be different than any other employer i.e if I was one.
    All the employer cares about is, getting his job done and truthfully speaking, thats the way it should be. But to effectively educate and get a 100% from an employee, the employer needs to play his part as well.
    I have seen a couple of totally incompetent employees growing in good firms and their employers are totally satisfied with them now. The bottom line is, its merely situational. If a person is enjoying what he’s doing, why would he turn out to be a wrong choice.
    And ya I agree, there is an explicit need of student counseling. There should be a career advisory service, that actually evaluates what a person is enjoying and is good at and guide them further in that particular direction.

  • Just one thought, regarding banning IT individuals. Instead of banning these people there should be some regulatory body which forces these people to go through career counseling. Instead of putting the end to their career’s by black listing, they should be forced by some entity to learn and grow and be part of the better community.\
    just like in some parts of the world you have to do community service to repay your debt to society.

  • Vaqar: That’s an interesting idea! A person might be blacklisted for certain causes, but there might be a series of courses he / she could take.

    Just like a traffic fine in the U.S…

    … a regulatory body may not be needed as long as big companies choose to participate.

  • Osama: I would love to, but these days I am working from home :)

  • Thus far all the comments/feedback has been extremely positive. I would just like to add perhaps fresh students can be provided career counseling and first hand experience via Internship programs by companies. But in order for this program to be successful career center in schools have to educate and work closely with companies. Another suggestion would be to educate/persuade companies to perhaps to outsource some of the IT work to universities. This might require comanies to make investment (comprising of infrastructure setup) in schools. As an example IBM can setup testing labs in some of the computer science/engineering schools in Pakistan.
    Just wanted to comment on point that Asim Khan mentioned on April 24th i.e. “When a person joins a firm, he comes with this set of mind. He has expectations. He has a vision. When he doesn’t get what he expected he’ll get than trust me, he does not enjoy what he’s doing”. I would like to state is that whenever an individual joins a firm, it is company’s role to educate an employee about goals and objectives. This in turn should help an individual/employee to align his/her goals according to company’s vision.

  • Amir,
    I agree with your thoughts about how an employee should align his/her goals with that of the company’s vision. But when I said vision, expectation and mind set I was more precisely talkin abt the HR policies. I am emphasizing on the need for solid HR policies to enable individuals to grow. In Pakistan I’ve seen even the most highly ranked MNCs totally neglecting employee rights in Pakistan. A clear example, MNCs like Nokia and Siemens, hire engineers who work twice the time as their colleagues in the same MNC in Europe and other developed countries but they are paid not even a quarter of the pay those people are getting. I’ve seen blunders from the German end of Siemens for which our Pakistani employees suffer. The worst part is, this is the most merciful example that I am quoting. If I start quoting about worse off cases, where even the basic rights are neglected than we’ll have to change the title to “an industry wide black listing of companies and employers”.
    I am a strong believer that a good environment brings about positive changes, where an employer and an employee has equal rights. Ok a fair share does belong to the employer but just a fair amount, where the employee doesnt feel being exploited.

  • Asim:
    I totally agree with you. In any organization overall vision and culture is set by top management. All I can say with respect to corporate culture in Pakistan is that people (e.g. if you are in a position to influence) who unserstand these type of issues and have influence over company policies should make an effort.

  • Muhammad Asif Razzaque

    I have a thought here.

    First and foremost do we really have the technical capacity in the Pakistani HR Mgmt (at large) to design and implement such a system?

    Second, once this capacity is mature it will only be fair to first train the Human Resources on the respective KPIs and EPIs (E>ethical).

    Third, after a very very long time into the future would this system be rightly and justly implemented.

    For now, keep it simple! The list could be only for cases of grave misconduct.

  • Okay, my opinion.

    We should have a black-list candidates list. There are candidates who we offer jobs and they “accept” the jobs and then we have all our planning done, to find out that four days before (or even after, in some cases) joining date, the person says he/she can’t join. In some cases, they refuse to take our calls even!

    So such candidates should be black-listed because they are actively damaging a business. If you don’t want to join, don’t commit. Once you are committed then you have to join! It would same the other way round too, we tell someone that he’s hired and on his first day we tell him that he’s no longer required! So there should be a black list of companies (who pay late or don’t pay etc.) and a black list of candidates.

    However, performance can’t be an issue for black-listing someone because if you have done a wrong hiring then it’s your HR manager’s fault not the candidate’s.

    Also the only reason you can black list a company should be salaries, or unprofessionalism i.e., issuing appointment letter than then saying you are not hired or something like that.

  • Hi,

    I think it’s a good idea but also leaves another problem for applicants that are conspired against wrongfully by one or more companies for some reason. This type of system should only be put in place if each person on the list can defend themselves based on the accusations made against them.

    I filed a complaint against a company I worked for some years ago. In retaliation the company used private investigators and friends willing to tell lies, to meticulously put together lies about my personal life that were designed to encourage a company to terminate my employment. This information is secretly passed along to new employers and recruiters. The sad thing about this is that I was fired twice as a result of this and nobody ask for my side of the story. Some recruiters refuse to work with me as a result of the accusations. If there is a list like this available today and this company has knowledge of it I may have been wrongfully added to the list.

    -Jim Smith

  • Jim,

    Thanks for providing that perspective.

    You’re right — no system should leave loopholes that allows for exploitation and mal-intent.

    Osama.

  • This appears to be an attempt to use something good to gain an evil and unfair advantage over another group.

    Jim

  • Absolutely disgusting idea. This could destroy someones career. Who will ensure that the employer who submit this data is truthfull.

    Just like there is bad employees there is bad employers too. With no moral values.

    This system leaves too much chance for abuse.

  • Julian that is why we had the other post have a read when you have some time. I know both can be mis used

    http://greenwhite.org/2007/08/17/should-we-have-a-blacklist-of-employers-as-well/

  • Social / Economic Boycott of a person with dependents is immoral, unethical and extra-judicial act.
    A group of business practice a self-made rules against employees which is not adhering to Labor Laws will be illegal. After all, what purpose Contractual Bindings serve? We all know that there are several single-roomed and two-roomed and popular PSEB-registered companies in pakistan who openly but falsely claim themselves as CMMi – Level 2 and ISO Certified just to win business, there are many companies which do not pay taxes, which do not pay salaries for 3/4 months to its employees, which do not pay due respect to employees, which offer job under a biased and illegitimate contractual bindings but no one is there to protect rights of employees, specially in software industry. That is one reason why our talent leaves pakistan and go abroad for better job opportunities where employers give value to their employees where they get all sort of allowances related basic necessities of life like Health Care, Conveyance / Transport for family. Exploitation of young talent is already too much worst in Pakistan. Go setup your business abraod and you will come to know obligations that an Employee has to serve their employees. No job-seeker will ever leave you, if you regularly do counselling, if you groom him / her professionally and if he feels that he is / will learn a lot during job, if he is ascertained that he will get salaries on time along with other allowances, if he knows that your company has a good reputation and pays at least a market value. Last but not least, improve work-environment in your organization rather than to control through penalizing strategy. If you talk about Islamic Principles then even it is not Islamic to penalize individual, instead it is better to give someone benefit of doubt.

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