Sunday, November 19, 2006

Updated: Las Vegas Metro PD taps applicant family members

The most recent IPMA-HR News reports that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) was awarded the "HR Innovations in the Public Sector" grant from IPMA-HR and CPS.

The $25,000 grant is for a LVMPD program called Household Inclusion Recruitment and Employment, or HIRE, and it's quite interesting and potentially controversial.

The idea is LVMPD will ask job applicants to complete a short supplemental questionnaire to describe the "composition, names, ages, interests and employment needs" of immediate family members. An HR staff member will then contact and speak directly with family members looking for a job to see if there's an opportunity within LVMPD.

The recruitment assistant would also "determine the family's hobbies, interests, religious or civic affiliations, long term goals, and other factors that could become an obstacle or an aid to employment within the department."

The idea seems to be to remove barriers that might prevent a qualified applicant from joining the agency, and to increase the pool of talent.

Here are my thoughts:

1) It is indeed innovative. Although attempts have been made to take advantage of professional networks to identify talent, I know of little effort being made to take advantage of family or personal relationships. It occurs to me that creating and sourcing networks in this way has huge potential. In fact I'm surprised no one has tried to create a more formalized network among employed individuals (e.g., you're not interested in the job but your buddy who works down the hall might be).

2) I see some potential privacy and discrimination complaints emerging from this. I'm sure the questionnaire is voluntary, but any time you ask people to identify things like religion or civic affiliations yer just askin' for trouble, IMHO.

3) This could be the best thing for nepotism since changing one's last name. Nepotism's already a huge problem in many public sector organizations--from both merit and morale standpoints. I don't see this program helping.

It will be very interesting to see where this goes, and I truly wish them luck with it as I happen to know some of the LVMPD HR folks and I'm sure their hearts are in the right place. Just be careful what you ask for.

Update: Check out LVMPD's advertising campaign.

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