In yet another sign of the times, News Limited has openly advertised in its national broadsheet for a Svengali-like figure to do the dirty work of sacking staff and designing restructures.
The advertisement, which appeared in Monday’s Australian, is seeking someone who, by the sounds of it, enjoys pulling the wings off butterflies. The ad also bares the soul of a company facing huge pressures to retain healthy profits as its main revenue streams dry up.
The ad promises “Never a Dull Moment” for the successful applicant. It is targeted at HR specialists who’ve no doubt been busily filling in applications for the position of Senior Employee Relations Advisor, although a more accurate job description might be “The Terminator”.
According to the ad, the “key focus” will be on “employee relations … providing advice to business unit managers on restructures, performance management and terminations.” It may as well just come straight out with it. “You’ll be sacking people.”
But there’s more. “You will be in a position to drive changes within the organization by introducing new processes and systems.” This language is a bit more weasely but given the context it takes on an ominous meaning, a bit like the research in Britain in the 1880s to develop a “table of drops” for more efficient hangings or Dr Guillotin’s innovations in France in the 1790s.
The ad proudly boasts that the company offers “exceptional working conditions.” No doubt this will the case for the successful applicant because he or she will be the one doing the sacking, not one of the poor sods whose job is being outsourced, centralised or restructured out of existence. The Terminator will also enjoy “career enhancement and the opportunity to really make a difference.”
Actually, News Limited should be given some credit. It has the guts to say this openly and, what’s more, in its own news pages, alongside the work of the people who will be terminated. That takes a special kind of hutzpah, the kind that tends to surface in an environment where unions don’t have a lot of clout anymore.
According to the ad the ideal applicant will “have extensive experience working in a fast paced environment with some exposure to the manufacturing sector.” It’s fascinating that the company sees manufacturing as analogous, perhaps due to its track record of downsizing and off-shoring. It also reminds applicants that News Limited is a “Global Media Giant,” suggesting that once the sackings stop here, there will be plenty more minions to terminate abroad.