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Employer Discrimination: Here’s How To Protect Yourself


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Being a recent college grad on the job hunt isn’t easy. You’ve already got the whole “no experience” thing going against you. But, if you’re in a minority group, you’ve got a whole other set of obstacles to overcome.

Discrimination is a real challenge.

Even though many top companies are vowing to combat discrimination, it persists. In this article, we’re sharing top tips to help you avoid discrimination. Some know this practice as “resume whitening.” We know…it sucks. You shouldn’t have to hide who you are to get a job. But here are the facts…

Workable noted a recent study on Equal Employment Opportunity statements. The purpose of the study was to figure out how important ‘resume whitening’ was for companies. The researchers included two employer groups.

  • Employers with a pro-diversity statement.
  • Employers without a pro-diversity statement.

They sent ‘whitened’ and ‘un-whitened’ resumes to both groups and waited for callbacks. The results?

“Candidates with ‘whitened’ resumes… were twice as likely to receive callbacks.”

Until we can put an end to all this nonsense, here’s what you can do to make sure you get noticed.

Don’t Share Your Location

In many metro areas, your zip code can tell many things about you. With a quick online search an employer can infer your income, race, religion, and education level.

Here’s what I found in less than three minutes:

  • People living in the 27601 zip code of Raleigh, NC live barely above poverty level. Over 80% of the population there is black.
  • Up in Hampton, VA, residents of 20129 have income levels 34 times those in Raleigh. Property values are high, too.
  • The Utah zip code with the highest percentage of high school dropouts is 84109. Over 90% of the population there are white.

Don’t put your complete mailing address on your resume. Why? The hiring authority can use Google Maps to see what your house looks like, what kind of car you drive, and if you mow your lawn. (Yes, people actually do this.)

We recommend including only your city and state on your resume. If you’re applying for a remote position, you might not even need to share that. Let your qualifications and experiences take the spotlight – not the neighborhood you live in.

Be Cautious Sharing Extracurriculars

Include extracurricular activities on your resume. Companies are looking for candidates with civic pride. For example:

  • Do you spend time volunteering for local charities?
  • Are you part of a fraternity or sorority?
  • Do you serve on boards or panels in your industry?

These experiences make you stand out. But you need to know what NOT to include to avoid discrimination.

If you’re part of an exclusive club – one where your race or religion is the basis for membership – leave out the name of the club. We know you’re proud of your affiliation, but your resume is not the place to include this information.

Remember, the goal is to get noticed and get interviewed. If the hiring authority has any bias, you won’t get the opportunity to move ahead in the hiring process.

When talking about your activities:

  • Talk about your role in the club
  • Mention current or past projects
  • Tell about your advancement through the ranks
  • Discuss opportunities you’ve experienced
  • Share ways you’ve developed your leadership abilities

Again, the club doesn’t need the spotlight, you do.

Leave Out Personal Status

The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 prevents employers from discriminating against you for:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • National origin
  • Veteran or disability status

Your marital and parental or caregiver status may also not exclude you from eligibility. But it might.

Women are still fighting to be taken seriously as business owners and mothers. Most recently, Joanna Griffiths, CEO of startup Knix Wear, made a few waves on this front. In her third trimester of pregnancy and running a venture capital campaign, she made a firm stance against this bias. Any group who questioned her ability to run a company and be a mom was declined the opportunity to invest.

Just Get The Interview

The most important thing to remember is that you are worthy. You have unique talents, abilities, and traits that will benefit the right company. Those are the only things that need to be on your resume. Once you earn the interview, you can let your authentic self shine.

Besides, if you don’t get the interview because of bias, you’re better off without the job. Move onward and upward, friend. There are better things for you!

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