Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Posts Tagged ‘discrimination

Ability: A New Form of Job Discrimination?

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The post Even It Up! wrote the other day about our experience with Edge Recruitment and their feedback on our application has been niggling at us.  It’s not that they were defensive about their processes (who wouldn’t be under the circumstances?) or they accused us of chasing work as consultants (isn’t that how work is sometimes won?).  What bothered us was the overt discrimination against skills, experience and qualifications of the applicant, and that we had dared apply for a  lower-paid position (although salary wasn’t stipulated in the ad).  Is what we experienced a form of ability discrimination?

It’s interesting, because the rhetoric around qualifications (certainly from schools, universities and the majority of employers) is that they are instrumental to (and even crucial in) gaining work.  Certainly, we have all been led to believe this over the years (if we didn’t, why would we spend thousands on our education – both vocational and academic)?  But what if it just isn’t true?  What if having qualifications is as detrimental to finding work as not having them?

If you participate in Even It Up! Forums, you know that this is not a new phenomenon.  Other jobseekers have also experienced the prejudice and suspicion that comes with being overqualified for positions they may apply for.  The recruiter (direct employer or recruitment consultant) often perceives that:

  • the jobseeker will walk (and quickly) once they find another position more “suitable” to their qualifications and pay expectations
  • they may expect (and demand) more money once they are in the role
  • they may be more “difficult” to manage and not be as pliable as someone who has less experience/qualifications.

While there may be an element of truth to the above assertions, it is not always the case.  Jobseekers apply for roles they are clearly overqualified for for a number of reasons:

From our perspective, the issues are: why should jobseekers have to justify themselves for seeking out work they are overqualified for? Aren’t employers being narrow-minded and short-sighted for not embracing the clear skillset that these sorts of jobseekers will bring to the role (and the organisation as a whole)?

And so the questions become: what sort of organisation are you? Are you an organisation that will embrace the various skillsets of jobseekers that apply for your roles?  Or are you an organisation that is suspicious and judgmental of anyone who applies for a role that (on the surface) they may be either overqualified or underqualified for?

And how willing are you to take the time to find out why before discarding “unsuitable” applications?


Written by evenitup

September 9, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Fair Work Act 2009: a better deal for jobseekers?

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There has been quite a bit of dialogue lately from HR professionals, recruiters and journalists regarding the introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009, in particular whether jobseekers are “more protected” by this legislation.

Sadly, and despite the rhetoric, this does not seem to the be wholly the case.

According to Complispace, it seems that while the legislation continues the movement toward a national employment system, discrimination of any type (which is covered by Equal Opportunity and anti-discrimination  legislation and is where jobseekers would most likely need protection) is still mainly overseen by the state system, although HREOC is the federal body.  We are not lawyers, so invite views/opinions/expertise to add to this post.

You can view Complispace’s presentation here.

On the upside, it seems that jobseekers are more protected by the Act  in terms of their privacy, and in particular information that is collected about them via social networking sites.

Simply put, employers can not make a decision about employing a candidate based on irrelevent information that does not have anything to do with the job.  So those “inappropriate photos”  of you that were posted on Facebook (and which were accessed by your potential employer) can not be used to make a hiring decision.

The difficulty is proving it.  The employer is more likely to say that you didn’t have the necessary qualificaations, experience or organisational fit rather than actually admit to unlawful behaviour.  What Even It Up! does recommend is for jobseekers to proactively manage their online presence (and overall personal brand).  Make sure you are squeaky clean, so if any checking is done, only what you what found comes to light.  Employers (regardless of legislation!) can and will check on sites such as Wink and Spokeo.

Kate Southam discusses this issue, as well as the “toxic reference” in a recent blog post here.  If you are unsure as to what was said/recorded, under the Privacy Act 1988,  you can petition the employer for the records relating to your selection and have them amended.  Even It Up! is doing just that with a couple of local/state government departments.

We will post the results via this blog and YouTube in the form of a desktop documentary.

Written by evenitup

July 26, 2009 at 5:39 pm

ANU study finds anglo names get job interviews

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We at Even It Up! always have a sense of validity when a credible university releases research – based on hard data – that there is discrimination out there in Recruiter Land.

The Australian National University (based in Canberra) sent out 4000 fake resumes to employers who were looking to recruit staff at entry level i.e. data entry, customer service and sales.   The results (from our perspective) were not surprising:

Researchers found Chinese jobseekers also had less chance of being called back than Middle Eastern and Italian contenders.

The fictitious employment seekers went to high school in Australia.

The research found that overall, Chinese jobseekers were called back 21 per cent of the time they applied for a job, compared with 22 per cent for Middle Eastern people and 26 per cent for indigenous applicants.

By comparison, Anglo-Saxon job seekers were called back 35 per cent of the time, only slightly ahead of Italians on 32 per cent.

The implications?  When it comes to getting that job interview, anglicising your name may help you get your foot in the door. You can read the full article from The Australian here.

And Even It Up! would take it one step further and contend that jobseekers are being discriminated against based on their address.  Those who live in areas that are perceived to be “lower socio-economic” may well be advised to rent a PO Box in a wealthier suburb, because rightly or wrongly, judgements are made about a person’s ability, education, talent, work ethic etc. based on where they come from.

And posting photos on your online CV may also be one way to knock yourself out of the race… but that’s a post for another day.

Written by evenitup

June 24, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Job market unkind to older workers

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Even It Up! has noticed with concern the global unemployment stats increasing as a result of the GFC.  We think partly it’s to do with business confidence (or lack thereof), and partly to do with an excuse by corporations to shed staff with (what they perceive to be) minimal repercussions.  It’s affecting in particular a number of key groups:  those who have just left school or uni, those in middle management or manufacturing, and those who are in the older age group.

The LA Times says that the current job market is especially cruel for older workers:

More Americans 55 and older are working longer, and those who are looking for jobs face a technologically transformed market where potential employers may deem them overqualified.  Many recruiters these days want only e-mail applications and refuse to take phone calls.

The number of people 55 and older who want a job but can’t find one has more than doubled over the same period to nearly 1.8 million. Many are struggling in a largely digital job search process that’s vastly different from what they have experienced before.

But with unemployment the highest it has been in more than a quarter of a century — 8.5% nationally in March and 10.5% in California in February — older job seekers are competing with younger, cheaper rivals.

Older employees are often wrongly perceived as being overqualified, overpriced, technologically challenged and inflexible, said Gene Burnard, publisher of the job-listing website Workforce50.com.
Some recruiters assume that because older applicants are vying for jobs that pay less than their previous positions, they’ll jump ship as soon as the economy improves.

Graying job seekers are flocking to technical and community colleges to improve their skills, experts said. Many are tapping reservoirs of discipline accumulated from decades in the workplace to keep themselves focused.

We would argue that older Australian workers are having similar experiences. You can read the full article here.

HREOC also debunk myths (backed up by research) about hiring older workers, and remind recruiters that discrimination is  against the law.  However, Even It Up! has consistently said that discrimination is now a covert practice, because (of course) the overt kind is illegal and people/businesses are getting very good at non-discriminatory discrimination…

Written by evenitup

April 23, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Online applications: another jobseeker barrier/filter

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Even It Up! had a very interesting conversation with a sympathetic supporter yesterday.  He was telling us about his son who is studying to be an engineer, and is currently doing a nightfill job at a Coles supermarket.  In order to get the job, his son had to complete a “one size fits all” online application that included an aptitude test.  Bearing in mind that job was for nightfill (opening boxes and stacking shelves) our supporter was bamboozled at the sort of high level, cognitive questions that were asked, for example:

  • What is the square root of X divided by Y times Z?
  • If X was travelling to Y at Z km per hour, how long would it take to get there?
  • Label the contents of a cell

The son ended up (quite rightly) in the top 97% of applicants, but was only offered a position filling shelves.  Interestingly, other nightfill staff  are studying to be doctors, lawyers, geneticists, robotic engineers etc.  Our supporter contends that Coles hires them because they are reliable and they want the work (which is fine), but wants to know why smart people are not channelled into more appropriate “knowledge” work within the company?

He also asks the question why more unskilled people aren’t applying for these sorts of  manual/service-type jobs, and he came up with the “because they have to apply online” answer.  Immediately, those who are not cognitively up to scratch (in the eyes of the organisation), or don’t have internet access, or whose first language is not English, are filtered out by the technology.   It’s discrimination, but in a very covert manner, because overt discrimination (as we all know) is illegal.

Barriers, obstacles, filters, discrimination: the job market is in a less than satisfactory state.  And yet the government (and opposition) keeps talking jobs, jobs, jobs.  Clearly, no one has had the conversation with business.

Written by evenitup

April 22, 2009 at 9:57 am