TAP In with Tristan : Showing Up As You Throughout Your Job Search

Tristan talks about why he thinks you need to show up as your real self throughout your job search. He presents you with this question: if a company wants to discriminate against you because of your name, age, amount of experience, hair, or any other piece of you… is that a place that you want to work?

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Tristan: What’s going on, Living Corporate? It’s Tristan, and I want to thank you for tapping back in with me as I provide some tips and advice for professionals. Today, I want to talk about why I think you need to show up as your real self throughout your job search.

When I’m working with clients, I always get questions about hiding a certain part of themselves, their identity, or their career pathway. These questions take many forms, including should I use my middle name instead of my real first name since it is better received? Should I remove the dates from my education section so I don’t have to deal with age discrimination? Should I downplay the amount or years of experience I have so the company won’t feel intimidated and give me a shot? Should I cut my natural hair or take out my braids before my interview? I could go on for days with questions like this.

All of these questions are completely valid. We know that having a distinctly Black sounding name on your application reduces the likelihood of hearing back from an employer by 2.1 percentage points. We also know that 61% of people over 45 reported having seen or experienced age discrimination in their careers. I have seen companies not interview a candidate or let a candidate go because they don’t want to pay them what they are actually worth. And a 2020 study found that Black women with natural hairstyles are less likely to get interviews than white women or Black women with straightened hair. The data clearly backs up these concerns that job seekers bring up to me.

But I want to present you with this question: if a company wants to discriminate against you because of your name, age, amount of experience, hair, or any other piece of you…is that a place that you want to work? I often see Black and brown professionals shrink themselves in some way to get a role. Once they land it and start to get comfortable, they begin trying to unveil pieces of their real selves and that’s where the problems start. One day you show up in braids and the next you’re having a conversation with your boss and HR on “professional” hairstyles. I’ve seen more seasoned candidates try to hide their age, only to land the interview and not receive a call back because the interviewer eventually saw the candidate was older during that process. I’ve seen people minimize their experience to secure a position but then were disappointed when they received an offer amount that didn’t align with what they should be getting paid.

Where am I going with this? It’s simple. Job searches and interviews go both ways. As much as companies and organizations utilize tools and tactics to weed out candidates, you should be using what you have at your disposal to weed out companies and organizations. If they are going to treat you like this in the hiring process, imagine what working with them on a daily basis would be like.

Now, if you are in a position where you need a job immediately to pay the bills and you feel like you need to play the game to get there, I will never fault you for doing what you need to do to provide for yourself. What I’m talking about here is my own personal philosophy after seeing how things play out, both in my own experience and the experiences of those I coach. But if you are in a position where you’re tired of not being able to show up as yourself, it’s time to accept that in order to find the right fit…we’re going to have to stop hiding throughout our job search process and utilize these traits as a way to weed out companies who don’t deserve us. Does that mean we may reduce the amount of prospects we have, yes. I can’t deny that, the data is right there and the numbers don’t lie. I don’t know about you, but that is a risk I’m willing to take if it means I can find a place to work where I’m comfortable being me.

This tip is brought to you by Tristan of Layfield Resume Consulting. Check us out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @layfieldresume, or connect with me, Tristan Layfield, on LinkedIn.

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