Young woman with her hand up saying stop

Don’t Judge Me… Just What I Can Do

When it comes to choosing staff, bosses are so judgemental. Because it’s their job to be. But there are laws in place, and things we can do ourselves, to help us get to the top of the pile…

Employers don’t have much to go on when they advertise for a job. Often just a cover letter and a CV, or sometimes an application form. A job description, (which the jobseeker should have seen), needs to be matched against our pitch, but after that it gets personal.

How we help

Quids in! is run by Clean Slate Training & Employment, which holds workshops for jobseekers called ‘7 Signs’. One of things attendees do is role play the recruitment process, looking only at a handful of personal statements. We ask questions such as: How much do they sound like they want to work in an office? How much of this kind of job have they done before? How keen do they sound? And so on.

These conversations soon turn into guess work. It is human nature to start reading between the lines. And there’s a lot of room for prejudice to creep in.

How the law can help us

The law is there for a reason. In the past, poor employers were known to choose people like them. Some chose people of the same colour or sex. But other things came into play too, like having children… or not having children. That’s why Equal Opportunities rules were brought in to protect all of us as much as possible.

There are nine things an employer cannot use against us: Race or faith, sex (gender), being gay or straight, or trans, being married or a parent, being disabled, or our age. All that matters is we’re the best fit for the role. Being prejudiced is never good but sometimes a more ‘innocent’ bias creeps in towards things we are simply more familiar with.

How we can help ourselves

As jobseekers, there are things we can do to help get a foot in the door. For example, we don’t need to share our age or parental status on our CV or in an application form. During an interview, it’s best to steer away from anything on the equal opps list, even church-based activities.

We should also consider whether other issues, like having a criminal record, are relevant to the job in hand. If there isn’t going to be a check, and if we don’t think it’s going to cause any problems once in the role, we don’t always have to declare it. Of course, we also need to be honest to ourselves. If we’re in recovery from alcohol, it’s worth thinking twice about a bar job before we get to that stage!

Quids in! says: “No-one is saying we have to pretend to be someone we’re not. For some people it is a point of principle to proudly tell people about themselves. Just be on the lookout for any negative signals from whoever is doing the interview. Also remember that if we feel we have been treated unfairly, even at interview, we have the right to take this to tribunal.”