A while ago, I spoke with an olah chadasha in her mid 50’s about her stalling job search. She expressed her disgust at various firms that did not call her back once they saw how old she was, as she did not include her age on her CV. When I asked her why she did not simply just tell the potential employer her age in advance by including it on her CV, as it would save her the trip to the discriminatory employer for an interview, she replied that she believes that if she were honest on her CV, no one would call her at all.
Towing the line of discrimination is not easy. While it would be ideal for all employers to act within the confines of the law, or even act economically rational (workers in their 50’s tend to stay at their jobs longer and take less sick days than their younger counterparts), the sad truth is that the front line in HR is usually filled with discrimination.
Perhaps the answer is simply to avoid anyone that practices any discrimination; after all, no one wants to work for a bigoted boss. But while this solution may seem right at first glance, it may actually lead to a more frustrating and prolonged job search while not actually avoiding a workplace that practices discrimination. In many cases, the first person who sees a potential CV, the one who wrongly rejects a CV when he or she sees that the candidate is married and of child bearing age or is in his or her 50’s, is not the person who would be supervising this women were she to have gotten the job. Certainly this is the case of manpower agencies and companies with large distinct HR departments, but surprisingly, this is the case for many smaller companies as well. Alternatively, the person who looks at the CV first may not be the type to discriminate, but the potential supervisor may do so once you meet him or her in the second round of interviews.
So how can a potential candidate minimize the effects of discrimination? I would not sugest withholding information, since is usually comes back to bite the candidate, nor to simply suck it up and play the victim. I believe that the solution is to call out the elephant in the room and sell it. If you’re in you’re 50’s, sell your CV on your experience. List specific goals that you reached in your lifetime, the type that some 25 year old pisher could only dream of accomplishing. If you’re a married woman, you should mention that you’re looking for a long term job and use the term stability more than once. Let the person reading your CV come to the conclusion that losing you for 3 months of maternity leave is worth it in order to have a stable worker for 7 years. If you’re single and afraid that the company wants someone more stable, mention your flexibility.
Once you get your foot in the door, past the first person reading your CV and finally to the level of the interview when you meet your supervisor, then you can see if he or she indeed discriminates. At this point, it’s okay to not get hired; you don’t want to work for a bigot anyway. But at least you know that you’re avoiding a job with a terrible boss and not missing out on a really good job with a great boss because of a bigot in HR.