Need Good Help

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m in a tricky human resources situation. I’m the administrator of a
mid-sized synagogue. The person who was key office support left us a
year ago for what turned out to be an ill-advised marriage. She moved
back and has been job hunting, without success. The Board just
decided to set up a new position as an outreach coordinator, because
our membership/outreach committee doesn’t do enough and I have far
too much to keep trying to get the needed chores done. The position
will be half time to start though may grow into more. I know we need
someone warm, friendly, outgoing, good with people, and generally
everything that’s the opposite of this person on her best day, which
she is far from having had in a very long time. I have two questions:
Should I notify her when the job is posted, and if so what should I
say? How should I handle it if she chooses to apply? In case it’s not
clear: I think she’s a bad fit for the job.

Need Good Help

Dear Need Good Help:

Here’s what you should not, repeat NOT do: Call her up and say,
We’re posting a position but I think you’re all wrong for the job so
don’t both applying. That&'s inviting a lawsuit. You can send her the
announcement with a simple FYI in the headline, to forestall the
inevitable, Why didn’t you tell me you had a job available? The reality
is that she may be as uninterested in returning to her old employer as
you are in having her. But more likely, if she is indeed unemployed,
she will have some expectation that you would want her back,
assuming she was good at her former job and if you’ve written her a
letter of reference.

Send the FYI, and when she calls (as she almost certainly will) to ask
about the job, her chances, and everything else that’s positive, do the
following. Speak in a measured voice and say it is an open search, and
the priorities are for skill sets very different from what she
demonstrated before. Explain that you are not the only person making
the choice, and then be sure that you are not. Get two board members
to interview with you (the head of membership for example). Hopefully
those people will have values similar to your own. End with, You’re
welcome to apply. We definitely want to find the right person for the
job. Unless she’s dense she won’t expect a lot of help from you. But
you cannot and should not stop her from applying.