Dear Claudia,

I recently submitted a highly qualified candidate to a search and the hiring manager called him directly for a pre-screen. While they were talking on the phone, the HM did some snooping on the Internet and found this candidate’s Facebook page, complete with pictures of his near full-body tattoo. It turns out the HM doesn’t like tattoos, so he closed the candidate off. I’m pretty angry over the whole thing, because candidates with this mix of skills are very hard to come by in any economy. The HM is an idiot, but isn’t this also a form of discrimination? I’ve seen the candidate in an interview setting, and he looks completely professional (nothing shows below the wrist or above the shirt neckline). How can I get the HM to rethink his decision?

Amazed by the Stupidity



Dear Amazed,

Isn’t it funny how recruiting (matchmaking, really) always seems to be dancing with personal bias? Everybody has a bias in the hiring process, even when they try hard not to: the Hiring Manager, the candidate…heck, even your own bias as a recruiter (what you think the HM needs, or even your own likes and dislikes in personality types or communication styles) screens folks in and out of the pipeline. It’s just how the human brain works: we categorize things that are similar, and we tend to perceive what we expect to perceive.

In and of itself, bias isn’t a bad thing. But it’s good to keep in mind the domino effect it has: bias influences what we perceive about the world around us, and what we perceive influences how we choose to behave. And behavior most often gets us into trouble: social norms evolve to help people understand how to play nicely with others in the sandbox; legal systems evolve to provide consequences when we cross the line.

So is this manager discriminating against the candidate? You don’t say if the company has a tattoo policy -- but if they do, and if that policy is applied equally to both men and women in the workplace, there’s no foul here. Employers have the right to implement grooming and dress policies to protect legitimate business interests.

But if this is nothing more than a Hiring Manager’s bias affecting his decision making process, you have two choices: reason with him, or take your most excellent candidate and market him to the competition. I’m guessing that this difficult-to-find skillset will be most interesting to Managers who couldn't care less about body art but are highly biased toward market dominance.

Happy recruiting!


**

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Karen please stop suggesting I've taken anything you said out of context. Here is the context: Tattoo guy gets dumped because he chose to broadcast his glorious skin art to the world. Hiring manager sees this readily available public profile and says no.

You then reply "Personally I cannot wait for the Government to allow the candidate to have more privacy on the internet."

Upon reading that - and well within the context of the original post by Claudia I threw in my 2 cents in as much as my personal feelings are that we are already in charge of our own privacy.

This particular point struck a nerve with you and so you then copied THE OTHER part of your reply which would seem to NOT contain the point I replied to in the first place thus alledging a misrepresentation of your original post.

Then I very simply reminded our audience of the entirety of your government regulation love in this regard.

Then you...............

Then they............

Then you...........

Now I...............

Respectfully,
Jerry
This fits somehow:

See here is the thing, it isn't bias, it's business...If a customer is not going to buy from someone who has tatts showing, then case closed, you're not hired...Do you guys/gals watch MadMen?...You see how businesses were run back then in 1960?? Well, I have news for you, not a lot has changed, everyone has their own odd idiosyncrasies, and if you don't fit, then you don't fit.
All Amazed has to do is get with the tattoo guy, agree that the tattos were part of a religious ritual, ie. a religion, and now the hiring manager's up sh*t's creek. But I think his/her candidate dodged a bullet anyway--- probably would have been miserable working under this pinhead HM.
This string made me a little bit sick...especially this comment

"In my opinon they suck, i don't want them in my office, i think they are trashy, nasty looking and some sort of throwback to painting stripes on one's face and sticking feathers in one's hair."

Sandra, I have never made a personal attack on a blog or anywhere else for that matter but you are my exception. Whether or not I like tattoos is completely irrelevant to this post but I just want to say that the only thing nastier and trashier than a tattoo is the dead animal hanging around your neck in your glamour shot.
Well folks, great topic, and timely too! Two things:

1. Keep your laws off my body!

2. The meaning of resume has changed. It now means anything in the document we formally call a resume along with anything that can turn up in a google search of a candidate. We as recruiters need to recognize this and council our candidates about their web presence. Ultimately, the choice is theirs to make. We and they also need to realize that thanks to caches and 'way back' machines, our posting choices can last a long, long time.

Donald
Loved the scenario and dialogue. Having the benefit of reading 47 comments with some time in between, I have a couple observations.

1. Not only is the HM an A__ but the recruiting and HR functions as well as company leadership that allows idiots to ignore talented performers on the basis of characteristics that are not relevant to performance is a travesty. Happens but still...

2. Few comments directly addressed what we owe the candidate. While you don't receive any pay from the candidate and therefore he is not your client, he still is a stakeholder who deserves to know that a hiring manager lets peronal bias interfere with business decisions and if it true about his inability to deal with tatoos, it likely extends to other areas as well.

As a student graduating with my first degree in Engineering (some time ago) and then again with my advanced degrees, I had a beard and went unshaven to my on campus interviews. At least 70% of the firms I interviewed with were turned off by my appearance. I chose not to shave. Let me repeat that. I knew it was affecting my candidacy and chose not to alter my appearance. I figured that the firm that did accept me as I am would have a more comfortable environment. I spent 10 very successful years at J&J. During that first career I interviewed with a couple food firms that offered me much more money to join them...if would shave...for bona fide reasons. I chose not to. Candidates can and should make decisions they take responsibility for...including accepting the negative consequences. Tell them to stop whining about things they can change and to chose a path and stick with it. You don't make their decision. You can olny offer the transparency to allow them to make an informed decision.

As a business GM in my second career providing recruitment services to corporations, I probably resigned half a dozen clients a year who were just like yours. I refused to work with losers. Still do. Sometimes, for a time, but only for a short time, it may even cost you money to resign an account but I encourage everyone to try it. It is liberating, develops enormous support among your emloyees if you have employees and focuses your attention on making a difference with the clients where what you do really counts. I may have tried to confront lousy clients in a way that improves their chances of changing their stripes but generally I would rather feed on the firms who allow idiots to thrive since the better performers there are probably dying to leave. I'm happy to hasten their end. I also can use the time I save in angst and BS by giving a little extra to the great clients I'm committed to serve.

I still suffer fools poorly but I have the perspective to know they will reap all they sow...and I don't want my brand to be tarred by having them as clients when that happens.

What you should really do is help your client firm give that HM an appropriate tatooing so the candidate will have a place to perform.

Best
G
I think everyone here involved and reading this is very clear as to who is saying what and that we should not listen to Heavy Metal because it may just come true.

I love the reference to the dead animal and I love the response. That to me is the sign that this was a successful online discussion in a network big enough to support it. ( I once picked up a girl at her house for the first time and she was wearing a fur coat and I said you need to take that off otherwise, I can't go out with you. She did and I had a good time and I think she did as well. Also, lately I have been emailing with Sandra and I never think of her in that fur coat)

Jerry and Gerry, start a discussion about the recruiter who represents a candidate who turns down an offer for 108k because his number is 110k. it's an important story to tell.
Karen asked:

"Here is another question re the subject, what happens if the candidate tells you that I have tatoos for Religious reasons.. what do you as the recruiter do then? what do you think would be your obligation"

I think the recruiter should refrain from sharing his / her opinion on this subject, and what's on candidates facebook pages. . unless they want to be a co defendant in a discrimination lawsuit, or be seen as interfering with a candidate trying to obtain a position.

the recruiters obligation is to present candidates with the desired skills and abilities.. "fit" and other subjective hoo - ha is a burden for the hiring authority and their legal team.

recruiters are fond of saying " we work for the client company" - I'm sure a lawyer specializing in representing candidates with hurt feelings will be more than happy to use that as the basis of their case.

just sayin'..
Has anyone taken into consideration that maybe just MAYBE there are individuals out in this world that seperate their personal lives from their professional lives? Without even knowing this so called "tattoo" person, he/she could be extremely professional during work hours, but love to express themselves differently during NON work hours. Last time I checked Facebook, MySpace, etc are used primarily for sharing details about yourself with friends and others on a more personal level rather than used as a tool to advertise yourself to potential employers. I am shocked that employers would base their hiring decisions from such PERSONAL social media. What a person does on their own time doesn't always affect their ability to get the job done and be professional...

It's a shame that this world has allowed us to take something that was created to have fun and meet new people from all over the world, and turn it into something that employers use to dig up the lastest dirt on any new employee....Isn't that what Background Checks are for, is to dig up the "real" reason why someone shouldn't be hired?
Well yeah..in a perfect world. BUT, we have to remember that hiring authorities screen people out.. they don't screen people in, or look for reasons to hire them - the hiring authorities mindset is to weed out the "bad" candidates until they find someone with the most amount of skills, and the least amount of real or imagined negatives..

the facebooks and myspaces of the world help them achieve this.








Carissa Jordan said:
Has anyone taken into consideration that maybe just MAYBE there are individuals out in this world that seperate their personal lives from their professional lives? Without even knowing this so called "tattoo" person, he/she could be extremely professional during work hours, but love to express themselves differently during NON work hours. Last time I checked Facebook, MySpace, etc are used primarily for sharing details about yourself with friends and others on a more personal level rather than used as a tool to advertise yourself to potential employers. I am shocked that employers would base their hiring decisions from such PERSONAL social media. What a person does on their own time doesn't always affect their ability to get the job done and be professional...

It's a shame that this world has allowed us to take something that was created to have fun and meet new people from all over the world, and turn it into something that employers use to dig up the lastest dirt on any new employee....Isn't that what Background Checks are for, is to dig up the "real" reason why someone shouldn't be hired?

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