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Alison Doyle

Employers Behaving Badly

By January 26, 2014

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nullOne of the common themes in the thousands of unemployment stories and stories about what they don't like about employers that job seekers have shared with us is employers behaving badly.

Job seekers have posted about not being hired because of their gender or race, because they are consider too old, or because they are pregnant or have a family. As Pamela says, "My job search has been excruciating, exacerbated by the abominable, racist and deceptive behavior of employers behaving badly, notwithstanding the law."

Even though employment discrimination is illegal, it doesn't stop it from happening. In fact, in a buyer's job market where there are five or six candidates, on average, for every job opening, discrimination can be even more prevalent.

To compound the issues, employers don't seem to acknowledge job applications often these days and sometimes don't even have the courtesy to send a rejection letter or email after a job interview.

Job seekers have shared their experiences with employers behaving badly including Susan: "I go on interview after interview and someone else always gets the job it seem that most employers think you are stupid or that you cannot do the job just because you are in your middle 50's."

On a more positive note, Pamela looks forward to change as the job market picks up, saying "Know that bad behavior will resolve itself accordingly as we (hopefully) move toward a jobs-friendly environment."

Let's hope that is the case. There are too many candidates who do all the right things when it comes to job searching and still don't have a fair shot at getting hired - regardless of how qualified they are.

Related: Why Don't You Like Employers? | Share Your Employment Discrimination Story

Image Copyright Keith Brofsky / Getty Images

August 31, 2010 at 4:41 pm
(1) Miastella says:

What I don’t understand is why employers advertise and advertise, you send in your resume and they don’t even give you a chance. If they aren’t getting any better candidates, which seems obvious by their continued advertisement, then interview those who are applying! These human resource people don’t know what they might be missing!

August 31, 2010 at 6:20 pm
(2) Angelene says:

I completely agree with Miastella.

September 3, 2010 at 9:52 am
(3) Gail says:

I believe you get what you expect. I am a 50+ African-American female in Detroit where unemployment is still well over 25%. I get out and network and I go to every free job search class I can find to educate myself on how to conduct an effective job search.
I right now I am the top candidate for two great positions. If the timing’s right, I’m hoping to get a bidding war started! But the key is I’m prepared and I EXPECT to win.

December 1, 2011 at 11:54 am
(4) Donna says:

Congratulations! But I have been exactly where you are. I’ve done well on all the testing I was asked to do. Made it to the final two, twice within one month and someone else got the job. The feedback: they went with the candidate who had more industry specific experience – B.S. Since I didn’t have the industry experience in the first place, why waste my time bringing me in, testing me and inviting me back for a second or third interview. The answer is simple – a candidate was pre-selected for the role. This is the employer’s CYA initiative.

September 3, 2010 at 5:40 pm
(5) Liberty says:

Yes. There are a number of things that contribute to this. First, most job applications are online. The online process lends itself to discrimination because they can ask questions that you be illegal face-to-face. They also obtain enough information to do a background check before they even call you end….40+ have their own set of issues. They (we) are not as technically savvy has we need to be. Most of us have stayed in the same job for years and gotten out of the lump in a technical sense. While you are at home, take some time to do the Microsoft tutorials…they are great in getting you up to speed in Excel and Word. And stop thinking that you shoud be making top dollar…employers are not paying what they should and will be sorry when the market turns around because they will lose great people. Change your clothes and approach…stop sounding old and you will not be judged as such. Age is just a number true….but time is what it is.

Best of luck to all of us!

September 6, 2010 at 11:42 am
(6) Keith Taber says:

The reason ads continue to run on is so THEY can say that they really, really tried to find their ‘appropriate candidate’ for the position… and so OUR search continues. Trouble is there’s no such ‘ideal’ person’ , regardless of what any/all companies (like Sears Holding) tells you. I have started up their on-line job aps (Sears, Kmart) 3 or 4 different times and have only ever gotten through page one before I was sent the dreaded auto-response email saying I did not meet their job criteria… the auto-response email only says ‘thank you’ but no thank you.

The stark and obvious truth of it is Sears Holding Company is clearly ‘APPLICANT PROFILING’. Page one of the SHCo application asks for only 3 items of info – your name, SS # and zip code. If the auto-response email pops-up right after you hit ‘submit/continue’ to go onto the next page of the ap and they’re already telling you that you don’t ‘fit the candidate criteria’ then they are telling me I don’t qualify because of: ethnicity, age or geographic status. It can’t be the latter because it was Kmart here in this town advertising the job and it’s very doubtful they could really determine my ethnic background or any religious affiliation …. so it boils down to the fact that my SS # says that I am 58 years old (and, admittedly – I’ve never spotted any employee at Kmart who appeared to be over 40 or so). So, the truth is they (SH/Kmart) won’t even give me a fair shot at doing a job that I’m quite qualified for [though they don't know that] and MORE THAN CAPABLE of doing because I’m ‘TOO OLD’, why waste my time trying to get employed there!? Trust me – I’m not gonna try again!


September 6, 2010 at 12:25 pm
(7) Tashana says:

First, if the HR / Recruiting department is small, it is impossible for employers to respond to every email / telephone inquiry regarding open positions; which is why you may not be receiving any responses.

Review your resume and cover letter. Does the resume meet the qualifications requested from the job description? Recruiters sometimes use keyword scanners. Make sure your resume has the right ‘keywords’ included. If you are applying for a job as an Administrative Assistant, and nowhere in your resume do the words Administrative or Assistant show up – odds are your resume is not going to be found.

As for employers doing background checks ahead of time, that really is not a standard practice. When I’m reviewing resumes I do not do online searches to see if I can find out more information on a candidate, I tend to let the initial presentation speak for itself.

But if this is a concern for you be sure to keep a pristine clean online image and the best way to do that is Google yourself at least twice a month – especially if you are active online Ė and clean up anything you donít want a potential employer to see.

Please keep in mind that many employers are required to post their jobs even though they have no intention on hiring externally. Tap into your LinkedIn.com network and reach out to someone working in HR for that employer and get more details.

If you are not getting the desired responses have someone review your resume and cover letter. There is no ONE resume for every job. Your resume should be tailored for that specific job to which you are applying.

Start with a plan. Employers want to know what you can do for them immediately. The less time they have to spend training you, the better and more cost effective you become.

Best Wishes!

September 6, 2010 at 1:27 pm
(8) Eric says:

Tashana, that’s the same boilerplate stuff everyone throws out, and it has nothing to do with the discrimination issue everyone else is discussing here.

The fact is that there is a LOT of discrimination out there and it’s almost impossible for job-seekers to fight. They don’t have the time and energy to fight this. You ignore that completely.

There’s more than one way to look at the discrimination issue. One is that you don’t want to work for bigots anyway. The other is that bigots are getting away with breaking the law. That’s the ugly bottom line that those of us 50 or older (I turned 50 just a few days ago) realistically face.

What I do about it is to keep working on my skills. I’m taking a seminar on Quickbooks this month, for example. It’s all I can realistically do, since I can’t fight those who discriminate me on any sort of realistic basis – I can’t stop them. I finished a degree this year and I’m continuing with my education and improving my skills. I just don’t see anything else I can do.

September 6, 2010 at 2:10 pm
(9) Al says:

Eric, I completely agree with your comment. As I am over 50 (65 really) and I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in 2002 in two years. I did it for two reasons. First, for the same reasons you mentioned and secondly to show a few of my friends, old co-workers and relatives that it is never too late to reinvent yourself. You most also network yourself, online & in person.

Discrimination is out there big time. The most common answer I hear during interviews is being the “right fit”. To me that is a big “red flag” that means that if you not the right color,age,gender or other physical qualifications, you are not getting hired qualified or not..


September 6, 2010 at 3:36 pm
(10) Abdulkadir Ismail says:

discrimantion is forbedin for HRM no mater what age.lanaguage.religion or color you have but what matter is the skill knowledge expereince talent and ability you have

September 7, 2010 at 8:25 am
(11) Lane Zane says:

Yes, discrimination does exist in the job market. There are so many people applying for one job that employers can be selective. I’ve been out of work for 8 months. I’ve signed up for some computer training and will do some volunteer work. I’ve had 4 interviews in 8 months but there is high unemployment where I live. Yesterday, I spoke to a man at Best Buy. He said he was out of work for over a year but was able to get a job at Best Buy. He told me he was 68. So people do get hired these days but it takes longer.

September 7, 2010 at 10:11 am
(12) CJ says:

I have been looking for a job for over a year and have not been successful. I believe, wholeheartedly, that I am being discriminated because I am over 50, although I can’t prove it. I have played by the rules and been a part of the system. Now I am just going to lie and exaggerate, and do whatever is necessary, to land a full time job. And that includes compromising my morals. The present employment climate is not favorable to anyone over 50. If not, I guess I can just claim disability like the rest of them.

September 7, 2010 at 8:58 pm
(13) Chicago Gal says:

Yes, they behave badly, like spoiled little boys. I’m walking that unending path searching for a job right now, which I will never find since I am considered old and dumb. I’m over 50 with a college degree. I was taught to respect, never lie, and give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. Guess I’m from the “old school”. Maybe if I had refused to put corporate postage on the exec’s personal bills or the FedEx pkgs each week, the co. could still afford my teeny salary. Do you know how cheap the exec was while I was out on medical leave? Couldn’t even buy a $.50 card at the Dollar Store that could have been put on the expense account and then use corporate postage to send it to me. Did I get flowers? Are you kidding? All I got were 2 phone calls asking when was I coming back to work. Shouldn’t think this way – but it’s too bad I conquered the disability. Otherwise I could be sitting here collecting those tiny/permanent disability checks.
And to think I covered his behind-side double checking anything he sent out for accuracy. The boy I slaved for refused to tell me my job had been eliminated. He told somebody else to do it. How’s that for taking responsibility? In December 1865 slavery was abolished. Guess my state didn’t go along with the Amendment passed by Congress . The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 apparently doesn’t mean a hill of beans either.

September 25, 2010 at 6:37 pm
(14) Tired of Looking for a Job! says:

I’ve been looking for a job for 1 year and for 4 months I worked at a temp agency – and was ENLIGHTENED! Miastella, the HR Dept of most companies (especially temp agencies) are posting jobs over and over not only to find more qualified candidates, but also IT’S FREE ADVERTISING! Companies are placing bogus ads, sometimes even going through the application & interview process and then ‘pulling the positions’. I have friends who are recruiters and have told me this is a more economical process rather than advertising (time vs. money). If a company interviews 20 people for a job, those people tell others about the company, what it does, etc. It’s happened to me with a well known big healthcare company and a friend of mine who went on a ‘cattle call’ interview. Figure this an ad in a magazine will run you $5000 and many won’t see it. You place an ad on job websites and interview people the cost is $75 + time to interview people. It’s the “NEW” form of networking. Trust me – I’ve seen it happen to me and when I worked at the recruiting office for 4 months, I was told to employ this common and completely UNETHICAL practice.

October 10, 2010 at 9:19 pm
(15) Clare Seche says:

I totally agree with Keith Taber! I just got fired from another of one of Sears Holding Company; Hint: Hardware chain in California whose first name rhymes with “Torture”… I’ve been at the store doing store set up and with years of retail/management experience, I was lucky enough to be kept on as Cashier! My manager promoted everyone around me, and sadly, since his wife recently left him, I got caught in the vortex of his bad behavior. Never mind I’ve never been “written up”, excellent attendance record, and exemplary customer service. What really bothers me is what this now ex-boss will never learn- you take care of your employees and they’ll take care of you. I can only hope the economy turns the tables and job applicants are the ones that get to pick and choose….

May 13, 2012 at 8:05 am
(16) Miriam says:

I have lost count of how many times I’ve been passed over for a job and I’m sure it’s because of my age, not because I’m not qualified.

January 15, 2013 at 7:54 am
(17) TM says:

I must say that I am a huge proponent of being proactive and never allowing excuses for your failures etc. But…… As of the last few years with the global financial recession and all, things have gotten beyond ridiculous when looking for jobs. I have lost count of how many times i’ve made it to the last round of for jobs that had over 220 applicants for the roles. At the end, it simply comes down to me not being the right “fit” for the work culture. The private sector is very much about how you look more than how you perform. Also here in Australia, racism is much worse than the states, by far. It is a very homogenous environment, blue eye blonde hair anglos. Being a bright, super effective communicator, technically skilled, and competitive american also plays against as people interviewing are actually scared that you’ll take their job one day. So its hard enough having a prominent ethnic profile but to be over confident becomes a detriment as well.

January 21, 2013 at 11:10 am
(18) Maura says:

The majority of recruiters nowadays don’t know the requirements of their job. To defend their poor recruitment skills, they also attempt to tell you that their clients wouldn’t want to interview you. The job descriptions iteself is so unrealistic and doesn’t match the salary it goes with. Too poor in some cases that would only allow someone to starve! Or too high! Too good to be true. I think they are playing at guessing if their client would like such a candidate. But obviously is more about personality and not a mere CV. For now all the people I know are still waiting to be called and wonder how these recruiters earn money. Maybe selling drugs?

January 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm
(19) Thomas says:

I agree with all of the comments here. I was just recently laid off from my position as a case manager. I was told it was for financial reasons. I had perfect attendance and almost always arrived at work on time or early. They kept the girl who took off for a week and a new girl that just started. I worked at a behavior health facility. During New Year’s Eve, almost all of the kids tried to escape the facility. None of my kids tried to leave. The next week they called me on the phone saying that they had to let me go.

January 21, 2013 at 3:22 pm
(20) Roe Breslin says:

If Pamela (in this article) thinks it’s difficult being considered for a job while she’s in her mid-50′s, just wait till she needs to find one in her early-60′s, like I’ve been trying to do for 2 years (after non-existant responses to my resumes for 2 years in my late-50′s). I’ve at least received bites in the past 2 years, presumably as the job market has opened up again, but I give NO clue as to my age… that revelation comes at the interview. After that, I get either the rejection notice or none at all (even AFTER being told my resume was the MOST impressive received). Of course prospective employers will NEVER admit to age-discrimination and will always state “We’ve hired someone with better qualifications”, but we know the score. Good luck to all older job-seekers who’ve lost their previous jobs through no fault of their own when the economy tanked in 2008 or after!

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