How Job Hunters Can Fight Bigotry in the Job Market

It’s tough enough looking for a job these days without having to deal with bigotry. Yet discrimination in the job marketplace is alive and well. Its been around forever.

Because discrimination might be staring you in the face, you need to face down bigotry by knowing how to deal with discrimination while looking for a job. This article gives you several techniques for nipping in the bud whichever type of discrimination you think you might face.

Examples of bigotry in hiring (as if you needed any examples)

As stated above, hardly anyone can avoid discrimination in the job marketplace. You’re either too young or too old, too fat or to thin, a woman, a certain ethnicity, or someone with a disability. So you needn’t feel lonely. You’re in good company because age discrimination, and other varieties of this unbalanced treatment is part of life and your job search campaign.

When you’re too young, many companies don’t want you because you lack experience. If you’re too old, hiring managers consider you to be over the hill and they look for younger employees. It’s puzzlement at any age.

Ageism kicks in when you hit 40. That’s the word from the U.S. Government that enacted The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) many years ago to protect you. The law makes it illegal to discriminate against people who are 40 and older. However, it’s a good idea to check your state’s laws against discrimination because some of them have passed ordinances that also protect younger workers from age discrimination.

How fight and defeat job discrimination in four rounds or less

Your strategy in the first round is to be smart in the way you handle bigotry in the job market. Taking the usual route of sending out blind resumes, answering ads, and posting on the Internet is not one of them. Networking is.

Networking offers you two powerful benefits: Bigotry aside, it’s your most effective job finding tool. And networking is the best way to avoid discrimination during your search. That’s because your friends and family, business associates, and former customers will instinctively refrain from referring you to any of their contacts who are likely to discriminate against you for whatever reason.

When one of your contacts recommends you to someone she knows, that person will dismiss any qualms about hiring you and overlook your age, gender, national origin, or physical disability.

When coaching job-finding clients on the networking piece of their searches, I ask them to make a list of people they know and divide their lists into these five categories:

  1. Your associates. They are the colleagues with whom you’ve worked in your current and past places of employment.
  2. Your friends and family members.
  3. Business cards in your wallet.
  4. Your address book.
  5. Professional people you know—your doctor, lawyer, and accountant are on your payroll and should be willing to provide referrals to their contacts.

When contacting people on your list, explain your situation and tell them what you do. Make it clear that you’re not asking them for a job but for referrals. Here’s a nice way to ask for leads: “Who do you know that you think I should be talking to?”

By applying this method, you can be passed on with a favorable reference until you meet your next job.

Your strategy in the second round to avoid discrimination is to believe and act as if your age or gender—or whatever else you feel sets you apart—is a great asset to a prospective employer. If it’s ageism, for example, sell your experience as something that only comes with age.

“If you’re a senior, it’s great”

In my book, “Your One-Minute Job Finding Coach,” I share the inspiring story of Don Fox, one of my career-coaching clients. Don turned sixty when he was downsized and feared he’d never find another job because of his age. After applying the job search strategies I coached him to use, Don landed a higher paying job with a title no less.

But that wasn’t his last rodeo. After my client turned seventy, his company merged and Don turned down an offer to relocate to corporate headquarters in Virginia. So he began another  job campaign. By again selling his age as an asset, he landed another job. Don replaced a much younger worker who the company felt lacked experience and Don was made head of the department.

Here’s what the late Don Fox told me about his experiences as a senior job candidate:

“There’s no need to be despondent over age when you work on the positive part. That means expressing at interviews all of the experiences you’ve had. Prospective employers will respect you for that. At all times keep your head up. And if you’re a senior, it’s great.”

Now we come to the third round where your strategy in looking for a job is to find a boss who would never consider anything about you as a liability. That boss is the easiest one to find because it’s you. That’s right, consider creating your own job by becoming an entrepreneur. Offer on a freelance basis a part of the job you did for previous bosses. In this job market, it’s often easier to find part time versus fulltime work.

If you haven’t scored a knockout over prejudice during the first three rounds, you can look for a survival job in the fourth round. Work as a temp to counter this question often asked at interviews: “What have you been doing since you were downsized?” For this you can contact staffing agencies and recruiters. Then list temporary jobs on your resume.

Remove the label “computer knucklehead” by going social

Regardless of which job search round you’re working on, you need to get comfortable using at least one social media platform like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. When it comes to technology, older workers are often incorrectly perceived to be computer knuckleheads.

You can show that you are technically savvy by getting active on social media. You can also network on those sites by demonstrating your expertise.

If you liked this article, you’ll love my book Your One-Minute Job Finding Coach

That’s because there’s related chapter in the book featuring thirty coaching vignettes—each can be read in just a minute— with more tips about how to handle age, racial, and gender bias while looking for work. The chapter’s title is You’re Either Too Young or Too Old.  CLICK THIS LINK to my Amazon page for more information about the book, Your One-Minute Job Finding Coach, and to order.

Copyright ©2016 by Ransom (Randy) Place


About the Author

RANDY PLACE IS A JOB-FINDING and executive coach, writer on career topics, broadcaster, and host of For twenty-three years, he helped thousands of employees who had been let go from JPMorgan Chase find jobs. And he coached executives at CBS Television, Pitney Bowes, and major outplacement firms in New York on job-finding techniques, communications skills, and selling strategies. An accomplished seminar leader and speaker, Randy has designed and presented workshops on interviewing, telephoning techniques, job-search writing, and sales training nationwide. Randy's groundbreaking nationally syndicated radio series, Your Career Service, has been heard on over two hundred radio stations across the United States. And his articles on career topics have appeared in the Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly. A former broadcast journalist in New York, he has also been a commercial spokesperson for an array of national and regional advertisers. In addition, Randy was a sales executive at NBC Radio and the New York City sales manager for syndication at Wolper Productions. He holds a Bachelor's in Sociology and Broadcasting from Syracuse University, and a Master's in Journalism from New York University.