Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Coping with Discriminatory Hiring Practices

Job hunting in this economy is a long, stressful, frustrating experience.  Jobs are difficult to land but it is nearly impossible to obtain employment if you are eliminated from consideration due to factors out of your control such as your age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.  We all know that discriminating against individuals based on these characteristics is illegal, and yet we continue to hear stories about it happening.  

In addition to the factors listed above, some employers are discriminating against candidates simply due to the fact that they are not currently employed.  Given the wide prevalence of unemployed candidates, most employers have become more accepting of unemployed candidates.  However, some hiring managers continue to hold on to the belief that those who were laid off were at least partially responsible for the decision and give preference to the employed when filling open positions.  An electronics company in Texas went so far as to state the following in one of their job postings: “Clients will not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason." (As profiled in a June 4 article on the Huffington Post).

Discriminatory hiring practices are hard to prove because a hiring manager will rarely admit to making a decision based on demographics, lifestyle, or employment status.  In fact, quite often, the discrimination takes place on a subconscious level and is explained away as a matter of “fit”.  

So what can we do about it? Although many characteristics such as age and race cannot be easily concealed during the job search process, you CAN know your rights and refuse to disclose this information if asked.  You can report discrimination to The Department of Labor and take legal action if necessary.   

Keep your head up and continue to apply at companies that do not discriminate.  Let’s face it, the use of discriminatory hiring practices by employers is probably a reflection of unethical or illegal decision making in other areas of the business as well.  Do you really want to work for a company like this?

Share your experiences on this topic!  We want to know:
  • Have you experienced discrimination in your past or present job search?  If so, what kind of discrimination did you experience?
  •  How did you handle the experience with the discriminating company or individual?
  • How had the experience changed your job search efforts (if at all)?
Barrie Berquist is a Retail Analyst on the ConAgra Foods Team at Acosta Sales and Marketing.  She has been a member of the MN AMA since 2007 and is a member of the MarCom Committee where she serves as the Career Insider Blog Project Manager.  She can be reached at barrieberquist@yahoo.com.  You can follow Barrie on Twitter @BEBERQUIST.  

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1 comment:

Albert Maruggi said...

I appreciate the candor but this is where we see how the system works or doesn't. and no matter what the legal code, the unwritten rules most alway prevail. now let me throw another wrinkle, social media.

People make judgments based on the friends who follow you, a tweet taken out of context or better yet to a person you may know very well, but to the HR director it could be the kiss of death.

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