Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Astrology in the Workplace: How Serbs Hire the Right People

I find it really tough to hire the right people for my company in America. I've studied HR books, developed applicant quizzes and tests, honed my interview skills, contacted references, checked Facebook profiles, etc. And yet, usually about half the people I hired turned out to be the wrong match. For a small, entrepreneurial company that can be very painful.

My husband tries to be helpful and supportive as I agonize over a stack of applications. "Get their birthdays and I'll check their astrological charts for you," he says.

Huh? But when I had a few openings in Serbia in 2005, I noticed that every Serbian applicant featured their astrological sign at the very top of their CV or resume. "Here's my contact info, my sun sign and a list of my past employers...."

Huh again. Well, maybe it helps to pick the right people. The only problem, for a useful astrological chart you need birth year. And in the US, you can't ever ask what year a candidate was born in, or you lay yourself wide open to age discrimination lawsuits, a constant danger here. (In fact, some creeps apply for jobs just so they can try to sue when they don't get them.)

Which is too bad. I'd like to try this chart stuff.

P.S. If you are looking for a job in Serbia, please don't contact me. Here's my blog entry with everything I know about jobs in Serbia. I can't help you other than that.


Мостовљанин said...

Did I get it right... You can't make a job offer, like: "looking for a young (pre-graduate) graphic designer..." because, if you want only young, that's discrimination? Or you only can't say "looking for 18-24 years old..."?
Has that something to do only with political correctness or laws too?

Steven said...

It's all bunk. And I'm sure if someone found out you used their astrological sign to deny them a job they would sue.

Anonymous said...

We hire extensively in Serbia, and the fact that they include their astrological sign on the top of their CVs is incorrect.

People more openly boast about their Diploma, and how because of their Diploma they "know" English, while in fact their grammar to a native speaker is horrible.

Rosemary Bailey Brown said...

If you ask people what year they were born in, that would imply that you might use their age to determine whether you employ them or not. It's illegal for most jobs in the US to pick staff based on their age.

Christina said...

Companies in the US have every right not to hire an applicant, but cannot openly do so based on age. If age is a determining factor, employers must give another reason, even if age is the obvious issue.

Yes, there are laws. Otherwise Rosemary would not have a problem. Youth is usually implied in the expression "entry level" - someone newly entering the work force in a given field - with a commensurate pay level.

Using astrology is an amusing cultural difference - which I believe is a big point of this blog.

Anonymous said...

In our line, we must hire young - old folks 99% are so conservative they can't really grasp this all-high-tech-new-age kind of stuff :) The work to be done takes them about 12 hours to do, whereas a young person takes about 3 max :)

Anonymous said...

Same in Canada -- you cannot single out gender, age, religion, etc. For instance, if you're looking to hire young beautiful ladies to work in your strip club, you can't say that in your ad.

However, it is all about political correctness since what you can do is just not hire anyone who does not meet your criteria :)

USA is a litigious society and, unlike Canada, you get sued left and right, so most likely you'll have to prove why an "equally qualified candidate" (e.g., good stripper with solid experience but who's older than 20 and isn't that pretty :)) wasn't chosen for that job.


merkat said...

I've seen many CVs of Serbian people and none of them had the astrological sign, especially not on the top of the list. We even consider distasteful and unprofessional if someone asks your astrological sign on a job interview.
Maybe it is the opposite - maybe those people had prejudice that Americans consider astrology when hiring people?

Rosemary Bailey Brown said...

The CVs I got were for jobs in Internet-related fields... perhaps that's a niche group who care more about astrology?