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It gets simpler to apply for a job at the Linköping Municipality

No need for motivational letters

  • 26 de octubre de 2020 10:30
  • Author Tzvetozar Vincent Iolov
Medium job application forms

It used to be that applying for a civil servant job at the Municipality of the Swedish city of Linköping required you to submit a CV, a personal letter, and if you have it, an academic transcript with grades. Not anymore. Starting 1 January 2021, the hiring process will get more streamlined with the removal of the personal letters from the application package. In its stead, the candidates will only need to answer two or three fixed selection questions.

It turns out that personal letters can also be grounds for discrimination

People looking for work at the local government institution will need to answer a question on their motivation, their interest in the position, and possibly why they would be suitable for it.

“With these selection questions, we get the answers that we really want from a personal letter, but which we rarely get answers to nowadays because people usually do not write about that,” said HR director Sonja Erlandsson.

The thing is, since motivational letters do not follow strict guidelines, they are often open to the candidate’s personal interpretation on how to write them. The result is that most of the time they do not give a clear picture of the kind of qualities and inner motivation that the employer wants to know about.

Another issue, according to Mrs Erlandsson, is that personal letters frequently contain private details that are irrelevant for competency-based recruitment. These details, however inadvertently, can end up sabotaging the application.

“According to research, personal letters have no validity at all, the only thing they do is to influence people who work with selection in the wrong way. There is a great risk that we as employers, consciously or unconsciously, weed out job seekers based on prejudice. It can be about family relationships, hobbies, appearance and age, or the lack of ability to write powerful texts,” explained Denise Cassel, a local municipal councillor (KD).

Sharing personal interests can actually be counterproductive because these might not be shared by the manager. The Linköping Municipality is also confident that people will appreciate the hiring process more positively now that they will not have to spend time crafting a personal letter.



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