Magazine article New Zealand Management

Dealing with Difference: A Diverse Workforce: New Zealand's Workforce Is Becoming Increasingly Diverse-But Cultural Difference Can Create Recruitment Hurdles. How Can Employers Help Level the Recruitment Playing Field and Ensure They Don't Miss out on Top Candidates Because of Poor Cultural Communication?

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Dealing with Difference: A Diverse Workforce: New Zealand's Workforce Is Becoming Increasingly Diverse-But Cultural Difference Can Create Recruitment Hurdles. How Can Employers Help Level the Recruitment Playing Field and Ensure They Don't Miss out on Top Candidates Because of Poor Cultural Communication?

Article excerpt

It's curious how something"normal" in one culture is considered offensive in another. Recruitment and selection processes are no exception. I've often heard the following in conversations with management in New Zealand over the past five years:

* "The people who apply for the jobs we post on our company website have no relevant experience."

* "Their resumes look very different from what we expect. And as for cover letters!"

* "Applicants behave oddly in interviews."

Most of the countries from which immigrants come to New Zealand are more hierarchical, formal and collective. In such countries the process to recruit new employees is approximately the same (job creation and posting, resume collection and screening, interviews for candidate selection, probation period), but each of these steps is conducted in a very different manner from local practices. In order to select the best people we must be aware of cultural differences which can thwart the process.

COMMON COMPLAINTS ABOUT RESUMES

Unusual layout In many hierarchical cultures such as India, China, the Middle East, and South American countries like Chile, candidates are considered qualified when they meet a specific education requirement. Here, people are often considered qualified to do the job when they can demonstrate they have the right attributes and experience in that field. In hierarchical countries, with assumed unequal distribution of power, corporations determine the potential and qualifications of people based on the degrees and the reputation of the university from which they graduated.

The resumes of many recent immigrants start with education. New Zealand resumes highlight the match between the applicant's own experience and the experience required to do the job.

Odd cover letters The cover letters of Muslim candidates may contain statements such as: "I pray to God you'll consider my application." In Arabic this statement has sense since in Islam, only God controls the future. It is also protocol in maW Arab countries. For most local recruiters and managers, God is not involved in the recruitment process.

Cover letters include statements like:

* I am an IT specialist; I can do anything with computers.

* I am a project manager; I can manage any kind of project.

Such statements can make local recruiters think, "Yeah right. You're trying to fool me or you're fooling yourself. We are looking for someone who knows what to do, not someone who wants to learn on the job. …

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