Job Search In The Shoes of A Black Woman
After recently attending an event hosted by Rania El Mugammar & the Social Innovation Institute called How To Be An Ally: Anti-Blackness At The Intersections and hearing fellow members of the black community speak on their experiences in Canada, I felt the need to put together a post mutually relevant to the conversation and the theme of The Working Millennial.
When I first started this website, I was thinking to keep it pretty traditional in regards to job search and career development advice but after the event I had an awakening... what's the point of having a platform and a voice if you're not going to use it to speak up? Saying that, I'm going to briefly touch on the job seeking experience of a black woman in the job search process that non-people of colour may not understand. Some people may relate and snap their fingers in agreement and for others I hope this puts things into perspective.
1. Having a non-conventional name
Pulling up job applications and seeing the name Brandesha I'm sure you don't think of a blonde haired blue eyed woman. Knowing discrimination is still alive and well, I know that my name puts me at a disadvantage. There were so many times that I've applied for positions that I was qualified for where I couldn't help but think my name alone put my resume in the rejection pile. I will admit that there was a point in time when I felt the need to put my short-form name, Brandy, down in hopes of making my blackness less obvious to employers. This was especially doable because my last name made this a little easier to get away with. For others, my sisters with true African last names this probably wouldn't be the case.
Don't get me wrong, many employers look past this which is great! However, we also have to deal with the following:
"How do you pronounce your name?"
"Wow so different! Sooo interesting! What does it mean?"
"How about I just call you ___ instead?"
Disclaimer, I proudly go by my full first name now with so much pride. You'll know my name, you'll get it right and you'll remember it forever.
2. The look of surprise walking in
"Surprise! I'm black!"
Not all of us have to deal with the previous point and majority of us have mastered what I like to call the customer service voice. Saying that, you get past the application process, you exchange a few emails or do a phone interview and then the big day comes... The face-to-face interview. You walk in and you see an interesting look of surprise. Some of you know exactly what look I'm talking about. This is more of a rare occurrence but when it happens you can't help but question yourself about whether or not the colour of your skin will stop you from getting the job.
3. Stressing about your hair
For the ladies who wear more natural hairstyles whether its a kinky-curly fro or waist length sin