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Monday, September 13, 2010

company won't respond - could it be discrimination?

A reader writes:

Our local Goodwill here has been posted a good number of hiring ads in the last 5 months and I've honestly applied every time and never got a call back. I followed up by calling and even this last most recent time followed up in person. The day after I followed up in person, they posted yet another ad... Now what I've realized just a few days ago is that every worker there is female, so is it possible I'm being discriminated against or something of the sort?

If so, what should I do, if anything? One of my friends who has been a hiring manager at a few places said I should call up the corporate headquarters and (of course while not being rude) talk about it with them. I don't really know how to go about that though, honestly.

Sure, it's possible that you're being discriminated against, but it's also possible -- and probably more likely -- that you're not getting called for an interview for other reasons, such as: you don't have the qualifications they're looking for, you do have those qualifications but so do 100 other people who applied and they can't interview everyone, your cover letter isn't very good, your resume has typos in it, someone there worked with you previously and didn't think you were very good, or any of a number of other reasons. 

Most importantly, keep in mind that lots of very qualified people aren't getting interviews in this economy, and that's a function of plain old math: There are five times as many job-seekers as job openings. That means that to get an interview, you have to really, really present yourself well.

My suggestion is to email one of the hiring managers you've applied with over there and explain that you're really interested in working for Goodwill because _______, and ask them to do you the favor of giving you advice on how you can present yourself differently to be a more attractive candidate. You may not get a response -- but you might get useful information.

(Do this in email, not by calling or showing up in person. Email allows people to answer at their convenience, think about their answer before responding, and so forth.)

I don't suggest calling corporate headquarters to complain, unless you really have evidence that there's some sort of discrimination going on, because if you're just speculating, you could harm rather than help your chances. If there's no discrimination going on, and it's actually just that you're in an extraordinarily competitive market, a complaint would be like waving a flag reading, "Hey, if you hire me, I'll misinterpret things in the workplace and sue you!" Rightly or wrongly, companies don't hire people who they fear might be litigious.

Redo your cover letter, proofread the hell out of it and your resume (or have someone else proofread them), and ask for feedback since this is a company you're really targeting. Good luck!


Wilton Businessman said...

Seriously? I'd be looking within and not looking to point fingers.

Deedee said...

I worked at a college, and a (casual) friend was always applying for every position that came open. And complaining that she never ever even got one interview and she speculated that you had to know someone there to get a job. At one point I was on a hiring committee for a position she was again applying for. When I saw her cover letter and resume (very badly done) I could see why she wasn't getting considered for any of the jobs she applied for. And the icing on the cake - she had ME listed as a business reference! She had never asked me if she could use me as a reference. And I had never worked with her so would not really be in a position to give her a reference anyway.

Unknown said...

I have to admit, I wonder about people who automatically assume they're being discriminated against for whatever criteria.

My first thought is that the question-writer should perhaps evaluate the way he's approaching this application, and make sure he's not giving off a vibe that could could be the real source of the problem.

Additionally, if the vast majority of existing employees feels like something that might not "fit" you for whatever reason, it could be time to think about whether or not you'd be happy (or happy enough) working there. Sometimes, hiring managers recognize that a person is not a good fit for the team they have, and will make decisions based on that.

Anonymous said...

While I've read through AAM and the others' responses, I'm still curious as to why they keep posting an open position. It almost sounds as if there's an issue with the store rather than just the applicant. Have there been problems with hired employees in answer to this ad? Are they looking for the most superb candidate that just doesn't exist? Or are they just posting a position to be a resume collector?

Jamie said...

I have no idea how this corporation is run, but I know some companies with high turnover almost always have ads running.

Also, sometimes with larger organizations the intend to hire and then for whatever reason (I've seen it as simple as lack of organization) it's put off for a while.

There could be a myriad of reasons why they keep running ads.

Amewsing Mews and Views said...

What exactly is the intention behind going to the corporate office? Perhaps the hiring manager foresees a potential "problem child" / complainer/ that entitlement mentality. this person doesn't even work for the company is already throwing their weight around? His/her energy is better spent moving on to something else.

Mike said...

I don't think anyone here is "automatically assuming" that discrimination is going on. Remember, this poster had applied several times and only now perceived the mix of employees.

Furthermore, the idea that "oh well, you wouldn't be happy working there anyway" is the biggest copout line I see on blogs like these. Guess what? Oftentimes working a crappy job is better than not having food or a roof over your head. Maybe there are kids or other family members involved.

It's not a sense of entitlement that makes one ask (and that's all that's being done here, asking a question!) if there is a reason everyone in the workplace goes to the same church, has a similar shade of skin color or is of the same gender. Nor is it a sense of entitlement that causes one to become frustrated with not being able to be a productive member of society.

So maybe there is a problem with the poster or maybe there is a problem with the company. How in the heck does anyone expect him to find out other than to seek an outside perspective?

Anonymous said...

Mike - I don't think anyone is saying he shouldn't get an outside opinion. He should try to get feedback from the company itself, but automatically assuming the position of being discriminated against because the staff is all women is only going to harm him. Perhaps, he is just not what they are looking for. Calling the corporate office will not provide much help, even if he doesn't identify himself as an applicant.

Mike said...

@ Anon -

Where is the assumption taking place? All I see is this guy wondering after all of his hard work if the possibility of discrimination exists. Nothing more, nothing less.

Anonymous said...

I interviewed with a medical device company with numerous openings - position was a supervisory position - ame title I held for over six years. I indicated willingness to manager I would accept other positions if not chosen for supervisor position.
I received an e-mail from HR "not a match". I wrote letter back to HR and hiring manager thanking for the interview and asked if there was something not discussed during interview I could clarify.
I re-submitted my resume with job description asking for a re-review.
No response from either. Positions are still posted on every web site, National Association, and with recruiters who have contacted me but cannot represent as I already applied.
What bothers me most is the fact that I am on UA and the positions are out to recruiters where the company will pay a fee. I could be working while they are chasing candidates through agencies.
I am talking staff roles in accounting shared services.


Anonymous said...

We have no idea and really no way of finding out what the reason is for the writter to not be getting an interview. However, I know from my experience as a hiring manager, friends who are hiring, friends who are looking for jobs and the other responses on this blog there are too many possibilities to say it is discrimination.

Does the job ad mention anything about how to apply and say anyting about no calls? If the ad specifically says no calls and you are calling that in most cases is not going to help you. While the though is to set yourself apart and get them to notice your resume, not the best way. You could be leaving an impression of not being able to follow directions, being desperate and wanting any job - not that job in particular and now being a pest to someone who is likely very busy. In this market there are so many people responding and you don't know what they are looking for and those intangible qualities as well.

As for multiple ad posts,there are also too many reasons to determine what that is about.

Do what you can to set yourself apart from others in your cover letter and in your resume. Make sure both are changed for each position being applied for, that they address any specific requirments or directions posted in the ads. I see a lot of really bad cover letters and resumes. Right or wrong as a first impression that can set one candidate apart from another.

Best wishes in finding a job. It is very difficult right now for a lot of people. Keep up the search and maybe try a different approach to your cover letter, resume and search tactics.

Anonymous said...

Mike-The reason why people say the OP may be automatically assuming is because that is the single and only reason he suggested is the cause. If he said, "could it be discrimination, my resume, my qualifications, or just a overly competitve mark?" then the assumption that the OP is assuming it's discrimination is diluted.

Byron J. said...

I'm not sure if there is cause to rule in discrimination, but I also don't believe there is cause to rule it out either. I do agree that you should make sure your resume and cover letter flawless before applying for this, or any other, job. However, if this has been done and there still seems to be an issue with getting a call back and/or interview, even after showing interest in the job by calling and going in person to check on the status of your application, I believe the idea of calling the upper level management may be worth warranting.

There may be a decreased chance of you getting hired by this particular company if you do make this call, but there may be added benefits to this also, such as valuable feedback as to what is the real reason for no call backs or alerting the upper level management of discriminatory practices that they don't know about at this location. There is a high risk to benefit ratio in play on something like this, but if it's something that you're really interested in I think it's worth finding out the true reason instead of speculating.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I’m tired of applicants assuming that since they submitted a resume and filled out an application they are entitled to an interview (or a job as I’ve seen recently).

For low-pay, low-education positions there are often hundreds of individuals who apply, most of which are qualified or over-qualified. Just because you were not contacted by the company for an interview does not necessarily mean that you are not qualified or that you are being discriminated against, or even that there might be something wrong with your resume or cover letter. Everything might be perfect and you might be a perfect fit, unfortunately that still doesn’t mean that you’re even going to be considered for the position if there are 200 other equally qualified applicants.

This is an outrageously competitive market right now, supply is vastly outpacing demand for jobs, there are tons of experienced, qualified, and able individuals who cannot even get a call back because of the sheer volume of people unemployed and/or looking for work.

It sucks, the economy sucks, the unemployment rate sucks, and wanting to work and not being able to find a job sucks. Unfortunately that’s the environment we are in right now in many cities. All you can do is make sure your cover letter and resume is spot on, and that they fit the job you are applying for, and just keep applying. Not getting a call back or an interview for a position doesn’t necessarily mean anything anymore.