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It doesn’t take too long before you see yet another article quoting an employer or employer group documenting or lamenting the dearth of skilled or motivated job seekers. The culprits for such a sorry state of affairs are invariably one, or a combination of; the inadequate education and training system, the unrealistic expectations of job seekers that apply for jobs and the entitled attitude of job seekers who don’t apply for, or accept, jobs they ‘should’ be grateful for.

It’s easy for employers and employer groups to blame external factors for their own problems in failing to recruit the skills they need when they need them.

However this year a couple of well-publicised incidents have revealed how many an employer is their own worst enemy when it comes to hiring the workers they need.

This week the Nine Network’s A Current Affair (ACA) interviewed me for a story they aired on Monday night about the experience of a West Australian job seeker, Lily.

Lily applied for an administration job at STS Health. The STS hiring manager, Michelle Lines, called Lily to phone screen her. Lily did not pick up and Lines left a message. Unfortunately for Lines she did not hang up the phone properly and Lily’s voicemail recorded the next five minutes of a conversation between Lines and a male colleague discussing the contents of Lily’s Facebook page.

In the conversation Lines and her colleague are heard making disparaging comments about Lily’s tattoos and other aspects of her appearance including the dominance of selfies on her page. The two employees admit they wouldn’t be doing a similar Facebook stalk on a male applicant for a technical job.

In two minutes they decide Lily is not suitable for the job purely from the laughable and discriminatory conclusions they have drawn about Lily’s character and hence her suitability for the job.

They have come to this deluded conclusion based on nothing more than innocuous Facebook photos. Lily’s resume (which I have viewed) provided the evidence of her suitability for the job however she was cast aside as a valid candidate for the job without a phone screen, an interview or a reference check.

In this instance it’s not just an example of worst-practise recruitment it’s also completely hypocritical.

As the ACA story revealed, Michelle Lines’s Facebook page comprised a range of photos that were similar in content to Lily’s – in fact it could be argued that Michelle’s page was slightly ‘down market’ from Lily’s. Nothing inappropriate about either page’s photos from a work perspective but if the pot is calling the kettle black……….

Credit to ACA who did an excellent job in securing a doorstop interview with Michelle Lines in which the reporter directly asked her questions about her hypocrisy, given the contents of her own Facebook page.  You can view the outcome for yourself.

A Google search reveals that STS Health have deleted Michelle Lines’s profile, previously listed under ‘Staff’.  However thanks to the wonders of the WayBackMachine we discover that Lines’s profile lists her role as Marketing and Brand Development (!!) and that “At STS, Michelle is known by her colleagues as being fearless, Mrs “can do” who is kind to everyone always.”

Lines’s profile also reveals that “Michelle has been a professional dancer, retail state manager and recruitment consultant to name a few.”

 I can only conclude that Michelle Lines was a recruitment consultant of short tenure and questionable calibre if she can so brazenly discriminate against an otherwise valid candidate for such patently non-competency reasons.

Lines also reveals she is a breast cancer survivor. I would hope that a person who has been through the shock and trauma of dealing with such a lethal disease would be more inclined to demonstrate empathy and humility. Not in her case, It would seem.

Michelle Lines has not been the only hiring manager in Australia making headlines for all the wrong reasons in this year.

Earlier this year there was a blaze of publicity for a job advertisement posted on SEEK after the long list of selection criteria for a part-time PA role in Melbourne coped ridicule and derision online, leading to SEEK removing the ad after numerous complaints. .

As Yahoo! reported:

Described as ‘the most challenging and the most rewarding position’, the part-time role, which was advertised on Seek and is based in Melbourne, requires someone who’ can look inside the mind of a successful, fast paced, intense, sometimes chaotic, passionate, easygoing, adventurous 28 year old entrepreneur’. 

With a salary of $50,000 – $64,999, the EA will deal with the CEO’s ‘bizarre, interesting personal life’ and ‘uplift the CEO to new levels; personally and professionally’. 

The successful candidate will ‘‘make the CEO look good, feel good and perform at a higher level’ as well as ’maintain alignment in the CEO’s life’.

Despite being advertised as a part-time position, the ad goes on to say that if a candidate want a job where they can simply clock in and clock out, then this isn’t the one for them.

“Expect after hours and weekend calls from time to time,” it reads.

“Life doesn’t stop when the work day does – High performers work until their tasks are done, NOT just until the clock runs out.”

The chosen candidate shouldn’t take things personally as it’s ‘never’ about them, must be able to deal with profanities, have a great memory and never go home if there’s still work to be done.

“Leaving the office without completing a task = no bueno,” the ad reads.

The job ad then goes on to say that ‘keeping up with his activities and A type personality isn’t for everyone’ but if people still want to apply, they should list why they loved and hated working for their last two bosses.

The ad’s copy appears to be almost entirely lifted from a US job ad posted on Linked in late 2017, which was subsequently the subject of a forensic and witty takedown on Medium.

Putting the plagiarism to one side, the ad is a classic example of the biggest mistake job ad writers make – describing the job and what the employer wants rather than highlighting the opportunity for the job seeker and how the job and company may fulfil their WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) factor.

Only a narcissist would write and publish such an ad thinking it’s going to help them attract and hire the right type of person.

Employers of Australia please stop complaining about the ‘skills shortage’ and help yourself hire the best people: Stop your discriminatory, deluded, hypocritical and narcissistic approach to recruitment.


Related blogs

Is recruitment in Australia still dominated by bias, racism and sexism?

Name-blind recruitment: A step we need to take?

Too ugly or too blonde: The dilemmas and traps of looks discrimination



  1. Craig Letham on 30/05/2019 at 11:53 am

    The mind boggles, great piece Ross.

  2. Liz Kington on 05/06/2019 at 4:54 pm

    Great article Ross, thank you

  3. Bobcat on 06/06/2019 at 11:40 am

    Lily seems like she would be a pain in the ads just the fact that she is making this such a big deal she has tattoos all over and seems like narcissitic

    • Ross Clennett on 06/06/2019 at 4:18 pm

      If you want an employee who doesn’t make a ‘big deal’ of being discriminated against and just passively goes along with poor behaviour then I agree you wouldn’t employ Lily. Otherwise Lily would be a very good employee if you like employees who stand up for themselves. Most employers prefer the passive types therefore they would tend to side with your view of her, Bobcat.

  4. Sam on 24/11/2019 at 12:23 pm

    The fact that she went to ACA speaks volumes of her character. Yes it was a crappy thing to do but if this is how she reacts, imagine if something displeases her if she was employed. I’d say that the employer’s gut instinct is spot on in this.

    • Truth be told on 07/10/2020 at 2:07 am

      I disagree if you were being discriminated against you would speed up. I doubt you would just sit around while others are bashing you.

  5. Lily on 20/03/2020 at 7:37 am

    These businesses shouldn’t be making hiring decisions based on facebook. What if someone doesn’t have facebook or doesn’t use it much?

  6. Truth be told on 07/10/2020 at 2:04 am

    I know I’m very late for this article but I have to comment on your usage of the term “all over”. This woman has tattoos on her arms I would not consider them all over. If this worlds job market was based off of looks companies would be very much under staffed. A persons capabilities should decide if they are suitable for a job not their looks. Lily is a beautiful young lady and perhaps Michelle was afraid she would be shined over. Criticism is often jealousy.

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