Those of us with White-passing names know this story all too well…you build up a stellar resume, send out applications to multiple positions, go in for interviews and somehow…none pan out. Strangely, people who were excited and enthusiastic to meet you on the phone seem cold and detached in person.
I have too many of these stories personally, so when I ran across one on a website from a new graduate, I couldn’t help but comment and try to leave some useful information for navigating the Biased Gatekeeper in the job interview process.
Anyone currently frustrated in their job search will find themselves in this question, and hopefully, some help in the answer:
I guess I haven’t been out of grad school for too long (3 weeks). I’m in the animation/motion graphics/design industry. I’ve applied to maybe…30ish jobs? And I’ve actually gotten quite a lot of phone interviews and in-person interviews. So I know my portfolio and resume is attracting people. But I just haven’t gotten any committed offers.
The last week of school, I got an interview for an internship at a animation and design company. Through email they seemed super excited to meet me. But when I got to the interview…and it’s a different person than the woman I talked to over email, the guy didn’t seem interested in talking with me AT ALL. Like, I had to pull his teeth to even get more description about what my job duties would be. I even got an email after that interview from the original lady I spoke with asking if I was still interested in the position. I said I was…no reply.
A week ago I actually got a call from a different advertising company that wanted me to do freelance work that would pay really well. The guy who would head the project said he believed I could do the work, and just wanted to meet me and other people at the company before I got started. I was out of town and said I’d love to meet the following Monday.
I emailed him asking to meet. Got no reply. Called him and he didn’t pick up. Left a message. He finally emailed me back said they were super busy, but we could meet Thursday. I emailed again trying to confirm. Thursday has passed. So I’m pretty sure that job has fallen through, or they just found someone else.
I guess I haven’t been looking long enough to just assume that I’m being looked over because I’m Black, but yesterday I took my picture down from my website just to see if I get any better luck. With LinkedIn, though, people can still see what I look like. Also I’m not bragging, but if you search for my name a few big awards I’ve won and pictures of me will come up. So I can’t really hide what I look like if someone is looking to find out..
…I am starting to feel like something wrong is happening at the actual interview stage. :/ I’ll find something soon, though!
Been there plenty of times and it’s the reason I started freelancing/consulting work on my own…
It’s not easy, but you get to skip a LOT of the “I don’t want to work with this Black chick every day” bias that comes along with applying for a full-time job.
Personally, I’d go back and hit every single one of those companies up with an offer to do contract work (since you know they need help) and see how it pans out…basically just an email (probably to a different, non-HR, contact in the company) with your resume, just letting them know you’re available. Department managers especially love the idea of getting work done without having to take on the responsibility of a new employee. Used LinkedIn and Google to get contact info.
I just did a quick search and ran across these freelance animation jobs. Pay doesn’t look awesome, but I find bidding on freelance projects to be good in managing frustration during a job search (AND it’s a resume and contact builder since you connect with people who need work).
You’re still really fresh out of the gate though (I’m guessing you’re saying you started searching at graduation and didn’t like, spend a year looking for positions before), so you never know how things’ll pan out…I just don’t trust job gatekeepers in any industry with any resume. Too many people trying to play fake family/friends.
I blew right past it when I first read the question, but she had already been rejected from a freelance project. As much as I’ll tout the freedom from some type of labor-related racism that freelancing provides, it doesn’t insulate you from everything.
I once had a manager, White male, who asked completely inappropriate questions during the interview process, all in relation to family. I was thrown, but not insulted. I got the job. We later talked about the questions–he told me that he didn’t want to hire anyone who was looking to use an office to replace, augment, or duplicate their existing familial situation.
…Much of the discrimination that takes place in the interview process (this is against Black people, Indians, over-fat people, physically disabled, whomever, ties in to the need of many people to use offices and workspaces as surrogate families or social groups. Unfortunately, regardless of the work arrangement…permanent, part-time, freelance, consulting, contract, whatever…if you will become part of the office’s social environment, your skin, appearance, and cultural experience will likely be a prominent factor in your hiring process.
So how about you? Tell us your stories of jobs that you feel disappeared once you showed up below in the comments.