We live in a world of “isms.” Ageism. Sexism. Racism. Heterosexism (I had to look that one up). Antisemitism. Ableism. Classism. You name it, there’s a hater out there. As much as I’d love to live in a world where “isms” don’t matter, there’s no getting around them. To some people, gender, age, sexual orientation or religion do matter. It’s incredibly narrow-minded and just plain wrong. (Though hopefully, you understand why. If not, that’s another blog.)
From a hiring perspective….passing up on amazing talent because of prejudice and ignorance is not the way to build a successful business or profitability. And as a firm believer in the value of diversity in the workplace (and checking a couple of those boxes myself), I thought I’d share my strategies on how to overcome bias. Ready?
Be yourself, be true to who you are, and be 100% authentic. That’s it.
Conventional wisdom and career experts will say stuff like:
- Leave years off of your resume.
- Take a more “Americanized” name if you are from another country.
- Try not to reveal your gender.
- Conceal personal information that might reveal your ethnicity.
- Never publicly share photos or posts that reveal sexual orientation.
- Hide the fact that you were a stay-at-home-parent.
Screw that! It’s time to retire this backward way of thinking. The solution? Be so amazing that you make age, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation irrelevant. I realize that this might be a bit scary, especially since this probably goes against all the advice you’ve ever been given, but trust me. It works. How do I know?
Ask my 73-year-old CEO client. He is highly sought after and hasn’t had to apply for a job in 10 years. His track record of turnarounds speaks for itself. His resume has dates going back to the 1980s and it hasn’t ever stopped job offers from rolling in.
Or my 25-year-old Director of Engineering client who recently beat out a field of Gen X’era for a job. (Age bias goes both ways.) We highlighted his ability to commercialize and generate revenue. It’s clear that he graduated from college in 2013 and in his last job offer, he beat out a handful of very experienced executives.
Or my Executive Administration Assistant who is an LGBT activist in her off-hours. Her ability to keep c-suite executives on track is second to none and her experience included EA work for the CTO of a Fortune 50 company. Google her name and it is quite clear where she stands on LGBT rights. This definitely didn’t negatively impact her recent job search (multiple offers in less than 30 days).
Or the SAHM returning to the workforce after 15 years of PTA and booster leadership roles. She broke fundraising records at her children’s schools. We translated this into a post-kids career in nonprofit development for a national 501c3.
I’ve got dozens and dozens of success stories like this. In each case, we defied convention and IT WORKED. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain and truly own what you have to offer your next employer.