I received an interesting, yet “angry,” post from a reader in response to a piece I penned about a year ago entitled “A Job Ad Requesting a Family Picture is Real and Just Wrong.” In that post, I discussed the fact that an Attorney named Nicholas Rowley ran a help-wanted ad requesting a personal and or family photo. Above the Law, at the time of this writing, asked Nick to explain himself. Nick retorted.. “A family photo can tell me many things. First, I can see how they seem to connect, I can see how happy they really are or if it’s a ‘fake smile portrait’ photo.” He goes on to say that he basicially wants to see if this person would fit within the culture of his firm, based on this picture, because his firm is like a big family.
I kind of ripped this guy a new asshole because the entire premise is so discriminatory. My father could have been an abusive drunk, my mother could be deceased and I could be single without a family picture to show. But, I also could have worked my butt off and pulled myself up by my boot straps to make something out of myself. That shows perserverence, drive and passion. But, I guess that’s not important to Nick. So be it.
Today,I received an email today from “Shannon,” who says, after reading this post: ”Hiring is discrimination all around. You presume someone would be a good fit based on the discrimination of a resume and where they went and what they did. Based upon an in-person, face-to-face interview and what the gut tells them, is also another presumption that is discrimination. I come dressed appropriately, yet I do not mesh with your personality and even though I have proven job performances, you are NOT going to hire me based upon your discrimination and your gut…”
Shannon goes on about the entire hiring process being discriminatory by its very nature. It got me thinking.
According to Webster, discrimination means “prejudiced, prejudical outlook, action or treatment.”
Is a resume a discriminatory tool? I suppose there are some aspects to it that could be. The hiring manager could certainly discriminate based on schooling. As a recruiter, I’ve had clients who have requested that candidates only come from Ivy Leagues or top tier univerisities. That’s a form of discrimination in terms of elitism and I’m never happy when a client makes this decision. And, as a resume writer I often tell clients to delete any political affiliations because it can spark negative judgements amongst hiring managers who don’t share the same political beliefs. Politics do not belong in the workplace. It’s just too divisive – and this holds true when it comes to a resume.
However – the resume is not a place for you to simply state where you have worked or gone to school. It’s a place for you to spell out your accomplishments in your career. It’s a place for you to outline how your path has made you the perfect candidate for the job you are applying for. There’s nothing prejudicial about that. If you don’t have the background or skills or “chops” for the job, you’re not going to get the interview. That’s not discrimination – that’s qualification.
As to the in-person interview, I don’t believe, as Shannon does, that making a judgement call about someone’s personality – or lack thereof – is discriminatory. If I’m the hiring manager and I find you to be abrasive and/or I don’t think you will get along with my team, then there’s a validity to that. If I don’t like you because you are a woman or you are obese, well that’s a different story. I wonder what Shannon thinks about the dating process. If I meet someone and am not attacted to them or don’t feel as though they share my core values, is that discriminatory? That would be a bold use of the word and I think it’s wrong. The hiring process is not perfect. There are elements of it that can, and often are discriminatory (to my dismay). But, overall, I think it’s a mistake to say the entire system is prejudicial even if certain people within the system are predisposed to prejudices. What do you think?
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