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dealing with discrimination

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legal warning: The information here should not be understood legally as financial advice. If you believe anything on this site is in error, please contact me. I am always open to corrections, new ideas, and new opinions...

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.


4 Comments

  1. This sounds great in theory but my personal experience and that of my husband is that it doesn’t really work. Finding work in Israel when you are over 40 (!) is extremely difficult. The best way to find a job is through someone you know. That’s what worked for both of us. I only hope that one day all these HR people in their thirties are looking for work when they hit the ripe old age of 40 and begin to understand how awful it is to be in the middle of your life and have employers treat you like you have one foot in the grave.

    • jonnydegani says:

      I agree with you that finding a job in Israel is always difficult, especially for people over 40, and that the best way to get a job is always through networking or protectsia. This post is meant only to supplement the tactic of using protectsia, not to in any way replace it.

      I am happy to hear that you husband found a job. I share your disgust at how workers in their 40’s and 50’s are treated and would like to stress once more how insane it is that HR people often skip over a demographic that not only comes in with the most experience, but is also the most stable, takes the least amount of days off, and will most likely stay at the job for a longer period of time.

  2. zivia says:

    Isn’t it illegal for a potential employer to ask how old you are? How is it that so many employers get away with it? I would never put my age on my resume. I think employers can get an idea of your age from your list of previous jobs anyway or the year you graduated from college (I don’t put that on my resume either). I’m over 50 but most people think I am in my early 40’s when they meet me.

    • jonnydegani says:

      It is illegal and it is a shame that ageism exists, especially considering how wrong it is just bad bad business (statistically, most workers in their 50’s take less sick days and last longer at their potential jobs then their counterparts in their 20’s). Unfortunately, laws against discrimination are rarely enforced, mostly because of how difficult it is to prove, but also because the government has not made it a priority.

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