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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Carissa I can't agree with you more.

On another note, I think this is all about people that should not be in positions of power - government or no government. This manager should not be a manager in nothing short of a severe manager shortage. Put a note on this guy's file - if you have one.

Managers should manage by fact. What kind of manager makes decisions on assumptions (publicly even...).

Re: this situation, I would present 3 candidates max, and if the best candidate was the tattoo guy - and he had the gall to say so, I would either:

A). Call him an idiot.
B). Try to impact his thinking, and barring a successful outcome, call him an Idiot after hanging up the phone.
C). Outsource the search to another agency and take a split.

Depends on the day... :) My tendency is number one, but maybe that's why I'm not in sale right now :)

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?
what is a gentle reader? I would hate to think of myself as that. sounds like a good hard case of being grinf-cked. Is that what's happening to me here?

KarenM said:
sandra, re your comments about Allstate, so as not to confuse the Gentle readers, -- there were two lawsuits against them.. i am sure the article was mentioning both situations -- anyways re the lawsuits.. there was the one for Age discrimination, that is by the EEOC
and the other is Misclassification that is by the IRS - one of many that they have had. --AllState settled 120 million..

StateFarm just settled their re mislcassification, as did Farmers :)

Re your friends, have them call.. sure I will enjoy meeting them as well; I am also pretty Sure we can find a lot to talk about :)
Well this certainly has been fun reading! I must take exception to amazed reference to the HM as "snooping" by checking out the candidate's Facebook page. What Bush and Cheney did with emails is snooping. What that town in Montana wants to do by requiring everyone to submit their social networking names and passwords with an employment application -- is really snooping.

What the HM did is what every recruiter/HR manager does -- before running the background check, right? Who out there in this business is not going on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, MySpace, Flickr, Google, etc to find the good (and the bad) with their candidates? Anyone?

and if mr tattoo man is god-of-whatever, i agree with other comments in this thread - pitch him to your client's biggest competitor... after he cleans up his Facebook page.
Hi Peter, we're in the entertainment business.

Peter Clayton said:
Well this certainly has been fun reading!
I have a feeling this free-for-all is over but just in case I wanna sign in so as NOT to miss any updates!
I don't know about that - around these parts, the party's been known to go on for days and days...

Maureen Sharib said:
I have a feeling this free-for-all is over but just in case I wanna sign in so as NOT to miss any updates!
So what's the big deal about tattoos???

The ability to quote "legal" verses and post links that have very different meanings notwithstanding, I'm surprised that other than Crispin no one "diverted" to the diversity angle on this. Very surprised...

I'll reiterate for those who believe every comment is an opportunity to "prove" one's mettle as a "recruiting expert" that diversity is one of the foundational tenets of our profession. How many self-serving hiring managers will wave off a great person for reasons that when uncovered scream of some form of discrimination? Granted, the CRA in its purest form is about attributes or values that one has no control over - although many would say that religion, among other variables - is a choice.

The word "expression" is frequently used as in "religious expression"; I can make a strong argument - although others simply won't have it - that my tats are an expression of some form and anyone negating my candidacy because of the tats is practicing discrimination.

Yet how many companies recruit this way in the looming shadow of their company bragging about their diversity policy? Perhaps asking about a company's diversity policy ahead of time is one way to start.
This has been a very interesting series of posts. As I see it, we recruiters discriminate all the time. A requirement for a university degree is discriminatory but is not illegal under any present law that I am aware of. I would go so far as to say that one of the reasons we recruiters receive a fee for our services is that we provide a "value added" element to the client's recruiting process; including our ability to discriminate "good" candidates from "unacceptable" candidates.

The subtle question being asked is what are the limits we as recruiters should place upon ourselves in our efforts to uncover anything that would eliminate a candidate. Notwithstanding all of the merits or demerits of the posts regarding potential legal issues, we as recruiters are obligated to follow Federal, State and Local laws regarding discriminatory practices in employment. I will refrain from trying to articulate all of them for all locations and circumstances. We must be knowledgeable and compliant with those laws.

I will state that beyond those applicable laws we must make our own determinations. Those determinations may be biased towards candidate advocacy. They may be biased towards the rights and prejudices of the employer. No matter . . . they are our choices to make, reflect our own personal beliefs and are something for which we must be prepared to stand and give answer when challenged.

As to more government oversight into the employment relationship . . . . My personal position is a resounding "No thank you!" To my mind, there are far too many examples of bad laws being passed, even with the best of intentions and almost no laws being passed eliminating antiquated or overly bureaucratic legal entanglements.
Ok everyone - just think logically - in 15 years this all won't matter because those of us that are all tatted and pierced up will be running the show - HA HA Boomers who hate all this stuff....

Having a tat or piercing or manipulation somewhere in your body has nothing to do with how well you can do your job and has everything to do with self expression and individuality. The conformity police that thinks everyone should look/be the same (um...boomers) and then the socialist group wants mommy and daddy (ie Government) to come in and save the world and protect us from being who we want to be.

Moral of the story -
1. This guy just needs to set his profile on FB/Myspace to private like the rest of us do
2. The manager is a pompous jerk who deserves not to get a top employee anyway
3. People on here love to get the chance to talk politics (ie government regs) every chance they get - ITS ABOUT A TATTOO PEOPLE
4. Soon, Gen Y'ers will rule the world and then you will be looked at funny when you come in wearing a suit/tie to an interview (YEA!)
Crosby, Stills & Nash

"Almost Cut My Hair"

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Peace - Tom


Sandra McCartt said:
We thought the same thing in the 60's when we were wearing torn up , hip hugger jeans, long straight hair, peace signs, sandals and no makeup as well as protesting the "establishment", war and trying to get pot legalized. You may be right, we thought we were. "Love beads" were a fashion statement. LOL. non conformist was a household word. You are on target with the rest of it and maybe everybody will be tated and pierced. If you are i can go back to those jeans and love beads. :)

Sarah White said:
Ok everyone - just think logically - in 15 years this all won't matter because those of us that are all tatted and pierced up will be running the show - HA HA Boomers who hate all this stuff....

Having a tat or piercing or manipulation somewhere in your body has nothing to do with how well you can do your job and has everything to do with self expression and individuality. The conformity police that thinks everyone should look/be the same (um...boomers) and then the socialist group wants mommy and daddy (ie Government) to come in and save the world and protect us from being who we want to be.

Moral of the story -
1. This guy just needs to set his profile on FB/Myspace to private like the rest of us do
2. The manager is a pompous jerk who deserves not to get a top employee anyway
3. People on here love to get the chance to talk politics (ie government regs) every chance they get - ITS ABOUT A TATTOO PEOPLE
4. Soon, Gen Y'ers will rule the world and then you will be looked at funny when you come in wearing a suit/tie to an interview (YEA!)
Dear Sarah-

Landlubber jeans with button down fly - loved them! And I had a mop of hair that no one would believe. Went to my first concert - Elton John...before he came out of the closet.

The real Woodstock - right on Tom!

Sarah-and remember, most of these companies who believe tattoos are the work of the Devil also have a high inclusionary diversity policy...go figure!

Love Mom and Dad

Sandra McCartt said:
We thought the same thing in the 60's when we were wearing torn up , hip hugger jeans, long straight hair, peace signs, sandals and no makeup as well as protesting the "establishment", war and trying to get pot legalized. You may be right, we thought we were. "Love beads" were a fashion statement. LOL. non conformist was a household word. You are on target with the rest of it and maybe everybody will be tated and pierced. If you are i can go back to those jeans and love beads. :)

Sarah White said:
Ok everyone - just think logically - in 15 years this all won't matter because those of us that are all tatted and pierced up will be running the show - HA HA Boomers who hate all this stuff....

Having a tat or piercing or manipulation somewhere in your body has nothing to do with how well you can do your job and has everything to do with self expression and individuality. The conformity police that thinks everyone should look/be the same (um...boomers) and then the socialist group wants mommy and daddy (ie Government) to come in and save the world and protect us from being who we want to be.

Moral of the story -
1. This guy just needs to set his profile on FB/Myspace to private like the rest of us do
2. The manager is a pompous jerk who deserves not to get a top employee anyway
3. People on here love to get the chance to talk politics (ie government regs) every chance they get - ITS ABOUT A TATTOO PEOPLE
4. Soon, Gen Y'ers will rule the world and then you will be looked at funny when you come in wearing a suit/tie to an interview (YEA!)

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