You look like you can do this job.

I recently attended #SHRMVLS in DC with a slew of my favorite SHRM Volunteers from all over the country. This is my second time attending and the connections I make at this event are so valuable. These are other HR volunteers from across the country who are in the same shoes I’m in, or were just in them, or are about to be in them. We get to hear from awesome speakers and find out about valuable resources to help us in our home chapters as we work hard to provide our hometown HR community with everything we can.

We have two opportunities to attend break out sessions with other chapters the same size as ours. In the meeting I attended we broke off into groups to discuss challenges we were facing in our chapters and shared ideas and experience to take back and try for ourselves. I love this meeting because these are my people, if for no other reason than because they have the same size chapter that we do in North Alabama and can relate to our struggles and triumphs.

The most disturbing thing happened while in that breakout session. One of the groups shared that they wanted to have a better social media presence and their idea was to put a college student on the board because they would be good at it.

STOP.

IT.

please-stop

Do not do that anymore. Do you know what you just said? You said “you look like you could do this job.” You are in HR and you said “you look like you can do this job.” Nooooooo. This is wrong on so many levels, yet it happens all the time. Think of how angry we get as the HR professional of our organizations when a hiring manager does this-makes an assumption that someone “looks the part.”

Or you think it doesn’t happen in your organization because you have a diversity committee, inclusion policies, sensitivity training, extensive interview training, etc. Maybe it doesn’t happen in your organization, maybe no one on your team has ever looked at a candidate and thought “he looks like he’d be great at math,”or “she has the look for sales” or “I bet that student can do our social media.” Maybe it was something you thought was harmless like “women are good at assembly line work-because they have small hands.”

An ethnicity doesn’t determine your math ability. The way you look doesn’t tell me how well you can do sales. Being a student doesn’t tell me that you can leverage social media skills to build an effective marketing campaign for an organization through the correct channels. People with good dexterity are probably the best at performing assembly line tasks regardless the size of their hands.

This is a soft example of what is happening in organizations that we need to fix, but I want to really challenge you to dig deep and make sure you have left no stone unturned in giving your hiring managers every resource possible to make them good at identifying talent and not a look, not a skin color, not a religion, not an age. Allowing this behavior is contributing to a much bigger problem.

What have you done to fix this or when have you experienced someone else making a decision on what you could or could not do based on the way you look?

 

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Author: Kristina H. Minyard, SHRM-CP, PHR

My goal is to challenge the way we view, measure, and utilize HR and recruiting in a positive and encouraging way. I love working in HR and value the network of HR professionals that I also call friends. I'm always learning from my fellow HR pros and find comfort in their expertise. I'm an active member of my local SHRM chapter (NASHRM) and a total HR enthusiast! My HR related knowledge is a mix of recruiting, retaining, engaging and just plain helping people discover their passion. I'm a follower of Christ, Wife, Mom, Corporate Recruiter, Blogger, problem solver, runner, Sports FANATIC & Razorback surviving amongst the [crimson] tide! You can find me on twitter & Instagram: @HRecruit Snapchat: kminny32 Google+: https://plus.google.com/+KristinaMinyard LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kristinahutto/ Thoughts here (and on all my social media channels) are mine and do not represent the thoughts/beliefs of my employer. Why would I name my blog HR Pockets? Read about it in my first post years ago!!

2 thoughts on “You look like you can do this job.”

  1. Maybe they already knew the college student was pretty savvy with social media and/or had a strong presence? Maybe they even volunteered? In my SHRM volunteer experience I have noticed that (despite all of the stereotypes) that those who are millennials or younger are typically more likely to volunteer for this type of thing, although I like to consider myself the exception to that rule. 🙂 BTW–your chapter does an excellent job with social media and I think you will make a fantastic chapter president.

    1. I wouldn’t have batted an eye at that, but their exact words were “we can find a college student because they would be good at that.” This is generally true-that younger folks are good at navigating through social media, but there’s more to it than that. Also just because a younger person is good at it, doesn’t mean an older person is not good at it! The group that made that comment had one of my social media pals in it and he’s older than I am and KILLING IT on social media for his chapter!! Like I said, can they build an effective marketing campaign or can they only make a post? There’s far more to it than age and the best social media gurus I know are all older than I am!
      I’m so glad to have you cheering me (and my chapter) on! I’m nervous and excited for next year. Fingers crossed for a good year!!

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