Victim of Job Search Discrimination?


One consequence of the slow recovery is more jobseekers believe employers are denying them jobs because they are too old, too young, or unemployed too long. They are discouraged, desperate and want to know, what should they do if they suspect discrimination has occurred? Here is my two-part answer.

Part 1, Move On: In a litigious society such as ours, you would think employers would be on guard to prevent discriminatory hiring practices. The truth is some interviewers lack training, some are uncaring, and others are very cunning. They realize you cannot know their intentions, which makes discrimination extremely difficult to prove.

Judges realize jobseekers are not privy to all of the discussions and factors that feed into making a hiring decision. Unless you have conclusive proof of an employer’s intent to discriminate for illegal reasons, judges will rule your claim is speculative and have it dismissed. Thus when you suspect employers are discriminating you may want to simply move on to the next employer. Chalk it up to their loss, not yours.

I am not suggesting you turn the other cheek or allow evil doers to get away without some type of punishment. Instead, I am recommending your time and energy are better spent finding a job with people who want you, not punishing people who do not want you. Except for the need of a job, why would you want to work for an ignorant, uncaring or unscrupulous organization? How employers treat you during the interview is often a prelude to how they will treat you as an employee.

Part 2, Put It Behind You: Some of you may be thinking moving away from a bad experience is not enough to help you relieve the emotional pain caused by others (fear, worry, doubt, anger, discouragement). I would agree more is required; however, the remedy I am thinking of does not involve retaliation. It involves changing how you think about your situation. Avoid dragging along all that emotional baggage with you or it will certainly impair your self-motivation and prolong your unemployment.

Realize uncaring people and even discriminatory hiring practices do not cause emotional pain. The manner in which you think about these things creates pain and distress. Whatever happens to you is insignificant until you assign it a meaning and react. By learning how to assign better meanings to what happens, you can just as easily create emotional ease, reduce stress, and increase your resolve to persevere despite your circumstances. You create a resilient mindset.

Here is the point. Your focus is on why the employer should hire you. However, because there are so many good jobseekers to select from (employed and unemployed), the employer's focus is on discovering why you should not be hired. If an interviewer wants to find fault they will, and the only control you have over what they think is by creating the best possible impressions.

My advice is to avoid trying to spot if employers are discriminating against you. Take it for granted they are, but not always with illegal intent. They are attempting to discern who they believe is the best fit. It cannot be you every time. Employment is by invitation only. Your best strategy for getting an invitation is to stay upbeat, focused on your assets, and optimistic about any potential liabilities. Do not give employers any reasons not to like you.

If an employer brings up personal matters unrelated to your ability to perform a job, you would be wise to consider not working there. If the employer later rejects you, put the situation behind you and move on with your self-esteem and optimism intact. Seek help if your situation is particularly egregious, but be prepared to receive this same advice. --- About Jeff Garton Jeff Garton Jeff Garton is a best-selling career author, organization consultant, career coach and speaker. He specialized in Human Resources for the Philip Morris Companies where he led the global staffing functions for Kraft Foods and the Miller Brewing Company.

Jeff is noted for pioneering the field of Employment Mindset to achieve Career Contentment. These topics show you how to have and enjoy a meaningful career despite challenges and circumstances that can't always be made satisfying. His groundbreaking research, published works, and innovative training programs are helping struggling workers and the unemployed rise above challenges posed by the stagnant economy and difficult job market. His efforts to increase people's hope, optimism, and resilience have been featured on Fox Business, ABC Sunday Morning, NPR Radio, the Wall Street Journal, Modern Medicine, Chief Executive Magazine, and Chief Learning Officer Magazine.

In addition to servicing his corporate clients, Jeff is on a mission to expand the existing job search training currently being provided to returning veterans and their spouses by the Department of Labor's One Stop Career Centers. His Employment Mindset training goes beyond the same old employment tips and tools used to find a job, and teaches you how to fulfill an employer's unpublished expectations related to right fit and chemistry; things that if you don't know, you don't get the interview or job offer.

Jeff lives in Chicago with his wife and two teenage sons. You can visit his website at and his Facebook page at If you would like more information about Employment Mindset training, or would like to voice your support for veterans to receive this new training, send an email to:

Jeff Garton Article Archives Discussion Boards Show Full Article

Related Topics

Veteran Jobs