pensive black man

My favourite thing about having my own agency is having a diverse base of candidates and employers. I share my experiences openly, and I’m the happy benefactor of reciprocity.

A part of #blacklivesmatter is ensuring equality in the work place. I’d like to add my voice to that conversation. I am not a person of colour, but I am a mother to beautiful mixed-race children, and I consider myself a champion for all of my candidates,

Listening to the stories and experiences of my candidates and grown kids broadens my understanding, and I am constantly learning. For now, I’d like to share with you three common themes that have been discussed with me by black candidates, along with the advice and recommendations I shared with them.

My goal here is two-fold. One is to shed light on common challenges my candidates experienced. The other is to inform those of you going through similar experiences. Here we go.

“My skin colour gets people’s guard up. They constantly think I am a thief or engage in aggressive behaviour. I am constantly defending myself against this stereotype.”

Most companies conduct background and criminal checks for any roles. If this topic comes up during your interview, you can certainly highlight your willingness to provide authorization for such checks if required. This allows the conversation to move on from this topic. If the interviewer comes back to questions related to this, you may want to question the interviewer why this is so important to them. Have there been incidents? How was it handled? Save the questions for when you’re given the opportunity to ask, but make sure to ask. You’re assessing fit as much as they are.

“I have a unique, cultural name. It always holds me back from getting the responses I expect from my job hunt. I use an alternative “white” name on my applications and resume to get my foot in the door.”

This is so common to hear… an alternative story I’ve heard has been of women changing their names to appear as men… Christine becomes Chris. The problem with this practice, be it to curb a race or gender stereotype, is that when you do land the interview, you will get off on the wrong foot. The interviewer will feel lied to. It takes a lot of effort to come back from that during an interview, More-over, if you get offered the job and HR finds out that you lied about your name, it may raise even more red flags.

“I hesitate to post my picture on a resume or on LinkedIn. I will be passed over quicker if I make a photo of me readily available to hiring managers.”

Much like hiding your name, hiding your appearance can be just as damaging. Can you land more interviews? My candidates tell me that it helps them get that first interview. At the end of the day, if the employer has discriminatory hiring practices, it won’t get you any further along the hiring process. If your goal is to get hired, be open and transparent.

 

I can’t sit on a soap box and claim that there are no discriminatory employers or hiring managers. But think of it this way – do you want to work for an employer who openly discriminates?

Remember, a hiring process is two-fold as well. As the employer looks for a great fit, so are you. Otherwise, it will cost both of you time and money. I champion candidates who bring their whole selves to the process. That means that I encourage everyone to celebrate their culture, their race and their accomplishments equally.

My job is to help you find a fulfilling and rewarding workplace. Advising against you bringing your truth and your whole self to the process would be working against my own success.

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