Jobhunting in California feels like beating your head against a brick wall…repeatedly. Personally, I am attractive to look at, extremely intelligent and have more skills than your average recruiter. Strike that. I have more skills than your highly sought out executive recruiter. Do employers here in California even look at me? Not a chance. Why? Because I have a gap in my employment. Do they care that I raised a family, got a degree and overcame a serious neurological condition during those scant few years? Not a chance. All they care about is that I wasn’t working. I could’ve been off saving the world and it wouldn’t matter…because I didn’t have a job. The worst part is, a real person never even looks at my resume. They send the resumes of the potential candidates through an automated system that spits out the ones who fit a specific criteria. Usually they look for people of a certain age…not too young, not too old. Too many entries on your resume will automatically disqualify you because they assume that you are too old. The next thing they look for is gaps in employment. No one cares why you weren’t employed, they just care that you weren’t. Then they look for when and how you were educated. That’s another ding against me. My parents never supported me or my efforts to go to school, therefore I had to wait until later on in life to get my degree. You’d think that employers would only care that you have a degree. Wrong. Since the majority of people who get their degrees later in life come from low-income families, employers go out of their way to avoid hiring them. How ironic. This is supposed to be a country where we can pull ourselves out of the gutter, yet these employers will do everything in their power to keep us down in there. So how do we combat this? How can we get these employers to see us for who we really are? We are not failures who started our lives too late. We are people who climbed out of hard times to scratch our way to a degree despite all of the obstacles placed before us. Why is it that some Ivy League brat, born with a silver spoon in his mouth is more worthy of a job than we are? His parents handed him a degree, and an education on a silver platter. Those of us who had to work for our education appreciate it much more, believe that. Not only do we appreciate our education more, we retain that knowledge better because we worked so hard to get it.
Employers need to reevaluate their recruiting system. It’s understandable to require a degree for certain positions and to disregard candidates who do not have that degree or a degree in a related field. To disqualify potential candidates because you think their past work history is beneath you, because you suspect that s/he might be over 35, because there is a fully explained gap in his/her employment, or you just think that s/he might have come from a low-income family is ridiculous. It’s sad to think that geniuses get lost in the shuffle every day because they came from a low-income family. People simply don’t care about you if you’re poor. If these employers paid more attention to what the potential candidates were really capable of instead of some misguided sense of social seniority, they might be surprised at what they find.