They’re Going To Find Out Sometime

Employment Exhibition

Employment Exhibition (Photo credit: Modern_Language_Center)

My pastor hails from the West Indies. When he applied for employment back in the early 60’s his shining credentials and measured, well spoken British accented voice charmed them. “Come on in and see us. You’re perfect for the job!”, they would tell him over the phone. Then, he would arrive for the interview and the employers’ disgust slammed the door long before they could physically stammer out, “we’re sorry. The position is closed”.

My husband sold insurance in the late 70’s in Rhode Island. Potential clients, impressed with his professionalism and knowledge eagerly invited him to their homes, but when he arrived on their doorsteps they spoke to him through the crack above the chain on the door…if they opened it at all after getting a look through the living room window.

This is African American Heritage Month (officially called, “Black History Month” in many places) and I am here to confirm that in the early 21st century racism still persists in the USA. Racism, sexism, ageism, handicap-ism and weight-ism taints the job search for many, causing stellar resumes to suddenly be tossed into “pile C”. We discussed this earlier in the conversation about branding and image if you remember. There are still some physical features in prospective employees (otherwise called “job seekers”) to which some employers will react negatively. This is still a cultural reality which cannot be denied or ignored. Just a casual listen to some of the conversation in the current elimination rounds in the presidential election debates unearth clues to the existence of a lot of social unfinished business in the subfloors of this society. I weep when I pray for this country sometimes. Much pain. Much pain.

Some career coaches advise their clients against posting their pictures on their professional profiles because of the known negative response to some physical features. I remember my stories and still post my picture on Linked In anyway. I say to myself, “why not? They’re going to find out sometime so it may as well be now”. I stand with poet Robert Burns: “A man’s a man for a’ that‘” I figure there are two kinds of potential employers out there: those who think I would be a good hire and those who do not. If  the unalterable aspects of my packaging puts an employer off, I have to question if  that is a company I would want to work for.

Nobody should be surprised at what they see when I show up.