Prejudice. This is a tough one for me. Recently, I had a prospective client say, “you come off as young and youth usually means lack of experience.” It stung. This person didn’t even give me the benefit of the doubt that I was experienced and just assumed that I wasn’t good enough because of my age. I thought about this person all day, ranging from anger to hurt to wanting to tell him off. But what I struggle more with is the fact that these snap judgments are made constantly – in our daily work lives, our job search, and our businesses. We are not judged for our qualifications, but for our appearance, our ages, our weight, how long we’ve been out of work or in the industry we are in and even the way we talk or what we choose to wear is judged.
The sad reality is that we cannot control these prejudices against us, so what CAN we control? As I think back on that situation and how I was feeling, I realized there are three things that I learned that can help you in your job search
What I learned: I can control my attitude. I get to choose whether or not I let someone make me miserable. Instead of feeling hurt and angry, I could have chosen positivity. Keeping a positive attitude would have allowed me to move on faster from that situation.
How it can help you: When you are faced with prejudice in your job search, try not to take it personally. Recognize that it is just a small bump in your path and move forward!
What I learned: I can choose how I will react. Instead of getting upset and cursing his name, I could have politely addressed the situation with him. Sometimes, people are unaware of the hurtful nature of their words and drawing attention to them will provide a great learning opportunity.
How it can help you: If you are comfortable, confront the prejudiced person, being polite and assertive. Try and talk to the person privately and see what happens and if that doesn’t work, talk to a supervisor. This might not get you the job, but it will alert the company to a serious internal problem.
What I learned: I should have reached out to my support system. I have been able to cultivate a great group of people that support me in my business. People who will listen to me, let me express my frustration, and, if appropriate, provide advice. Instead of fuming and feeling hurt, I should have sought out their support.
How it can help you: Job hunting is exhausting, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s even worse if you are facing prejudice while you are doing it. Build a group of people that can support you during this time, friends, family members, other job seekers, or even a professional coach can help.
The biggest thing to remember is to not share those prejudices. Remember how awesome you are and look at yourself through your own eyes, not theirs.