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HUMAN RESOURCES

Hiring, Hollywood Style

What Hugh Grant and your marketing assistant may have in common.
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Everyone is familiar with the concept of typecasting as it pertains to movies. Joe Pesci always plays a crook; Goldie Hawn portrays a bimbo; Hugh Grant always plays...Hugh Grant. But typecasting is more common in the business world--across all industries--than you might think. A study conducted by Ezra Zuckerman, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, concludes that employers are more likely to hire someone who is easily typecast into a particular role, especially early in their careers. Just as young actresses who are typecast get more film roles, a person pegged as a retail banking marketing assistant will find it easier to get a new job than someone with more general marketing experience. Nevertheless, Zuckerman warns that typecasting can be bad HR policy. "You can get into the trap of assuming that just because someone has done that work in the past that they must be competent at it, which is not always the case," he says. "It's amazing how many bad employees get passed around from company to company just because they've held the job before." (This might also explain the acting juggernaut that is Freddie Prinze Jr.)

Last updated: Jan 1, 2004




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