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Show Us a Photo: Maybe We’ll Hire You

5 Nov

A weird trend I’m starting to see in job listings are of potential employers requesting a photo of job applicants.

I know, RIGHT? 

There was a temporary job I spotted recently that I was applying for and the woman  e-mailed me asking for a recent photo to be sent in.

Um, WHAT?

WHY?

I wrote her back in a slightly scathing e-mail informing her that I have NO interest in ANY job that would require a photo of me before even interviewing me.

You’d think other than in the entertainment industry this would be illegal, right? I mean, that business is all about head shots and looks and the “right fit” cosmetically. I get it. But for the average job–particularly in an office setting–what gives?

I just knew that it had to be some sort of discriminatory act, this photo requesting. So I did some research and discovered that asking for a photo is not illegal at all. But there’s a catch…

From freeadvice.com the question was answered:

No, it’s not necessarily illegal to ask for a photo prior to an interview. And nor is it necessarily illegal discrimination to discriminate on the basis of looks. What’s forbidden is discriminating on several bases, such as gender; religion; race; age over 40; disability; etc. If you believe that you did not get  the job because of one of those characteristics–which are often revealed via a photo or appearance–you may have a discrimination case.

On the other hand, an employer could choose to hire a more attractive applicant, or to not hire because they don’t like how you look, as long as it’s not owing to one of the grounds above. Only the specifically prohibited discrimination is actually prohibited.

Legal tangles. Notice the wording, the twisted vernacular. So sneaky the powers that be. Come on, we all know that looks trump every single thing in this world. There have even been studies done that show babies gazing at the “prettier” or more attractive face when presented with a series of photos.

So why are my britches in a bunch? Because I think it’s ridiculous to:

1) ask for a photo for a job involving NOTHING to do with appearance

and

2) ask for a photo for a job involving NOTHING to do with appearance.

My fingers will be doing the typing. What if they’re not pretty?

My eyes will be doing the scanning of documents. What if they’re not pretty?

Cough. Is my brain attractive enough? Did you need a photo of that, too?

This is all dumb.

I was so tempted to send in a huge print-out photo of a gorilla along with my resume.

Here’s my picture, a-holes:

YOU HAPPY NOW? 

Job References & Why They Bite

3 Oct

Ugh, the job reference circuit.

You’re looking for a new gig, tired of your old/current gig so you need to put down some people who you think will speak fondly of you. You hope they’ll say stuff like,

“Oh, Jennifer? She was a GREAT employee. She came in early and stayed late. She worked well with others as well as individually with minimal supervision. She was reliable, trustworthy and I would hire her again.”

Instead of

“Oh, Jennifer? She was a LOUSY employee. She came in late and left early. She didn’t quite work well with others and when left alone she would peruse the internet. She was unreliable, untrustworthy and we certainly would NOT hire her again.”

I’ve had both. Well, not as wordy on the latter because, well, it’s apparently against the law for employers to divulge too much information, especially if it sounds personal. Supposedly (former) employers are only supposed to answer basic questions such as how long you worked somewhere, your title and salary and if they’d hire you again. PERIOD.

But oh, to have one of those references where the ex-boss goes on and on, then says too much that’s hurtful. I once had an ex-supervisor state when asked for a reference for me: “Oh, I wouldn’t want to hurt her chances of getting a job.”

W.T.F.?

Lucky for me it was a headhunter whom I had a good rapport with so she asked me outright, “WHAT IN THE WORLD HAPPENED THERE?” I was able to explain that Barbara the person in question was extremely flighty and judgmental, not to  mention lazy, so she was the LAST person to dole out references on ME.

To this day I won’t use anyone (there were only five of us working there anyway) from that company. EVER EVER NEVER. Extracting good references from each or most jobs can be testy.

Ever had a poor job reference? Even slightly bad? Not good when you’re job hunting and need to put down a reference from someone from that particular company that looms large on your resume.

I once had a boss give me a great reference the first time but a crappy reference a few years after giving me the first great reference.

What gives with people? Did his hormones suddenly crash affecting his memory? I am the same Jennifer worker bee that you referenced before, Mark Mr. Poor Reference Giver.

YOU’RE MESSING WITH MY LIFE HERE, BUDDY.

Like I mentioned in my book, I suspect that there are employers who are jealous that you’re out there in the working world moving and grooving while they’re still stuck at the same un-exciting company pushing the same buttons, gazing at the same vending machine. Waiting for twenty more years to pass so that they can finally retire. 

“Hmm, Jennifer’s getting hired AGAIN? I know…I’ll give her a poor reference.”

My thing is this…if a person works well enough (if they lasted at your organization for two or more years and left on their own accord, apparently they worked well enough) just give them a decent reference. If you had personal issues with them (you didn’t think they liked YOU, you didn’t like the way they dressed, you didn’t like their weird nuances, etc.) put those aside.

A job reference isn’t a gateway to hold someone back for personal reasons or to thwart their career efforts; it’s a reference. Keep it short and sweet.

References can and do determine a person’s very working LIFE and therefore their rent/mortgage, their car payments, their food supply, their family life, their overall well being.

Don’t be such a job snob.

Illegal Interview Questions?

19 Nov

So you got all dressed up in your “professional attire”–men in your colorful nooses tied in a knot around your Adam’s apples and women in your itchy nylons that are suffocating your epidermis.  From your rear view mirror you picked the random food from your teeth and got the crud out of the corner of your eye. You took several deep breaths and entered the lobby of what could be your next hell hole. You greet the perky receptionist who actually appears to be happy to see you, a person she’s never met before. You sit nervously wondering where all of these tiny pieces of lint came from, like magic they just appeared right there on the fabric covering your thighs. You covertly pick at the tiny beads of lint, careful not to appear self-absorbed or dirty or OCD or…

“HELLO THERE!” a big hairy hand is extended a mere inch from your forehead.

It’s time for your interview. You follow a tan suit into a back room where you’ll talk about y0ur career in a verbal dance that will involve tiny white lies to questions like “How did you like your previous job?” and “How well do you respond to challenges?” (I cry, don’t you?) A verbal tango of hideous proportions.  But you’ve gotta play the game.  I mean, you need a paycheck. You need eggs and bread and coffee and foot cream. And Hot Pockets.

Well, if your interview consists of ANY of the following questions they could very well be illegal.

Are you able to work overtime, evenings and weekends?

How do you feel about attending conferences with men/women?

What child care arrangements have you made?

What type of position does your spouse have?

This job has always been handled by a female/male. Do you think you can handle it?

What are your computer skills? Would you be interested in doing some word processing? (I know for a fact I’ve been asked this at each and every job interview.)

By the way, would you mind telling me, just how old are you?

How do you respond to authority?

Where were you born?

What’s your nationality?

Are you married, divorced, separated or single?

What holidays do you celebrate?

Do you have any disabilities that affect your work?

According to a 2003 Washington Post article, the aforementioned questions, particularly during a job interview, are potentially illegal.  Hmm. Looks like a lot of companies are breaking the law. Just some food (or litigation) for thought.

This information is covered in the book as well.