Has your job application ever been rejected for an unacceptable reason? Let’s explore one of the more common types of invalid rejection reasons, and the appropriate responses.
MY APPLICATION GOT REJECTED BECAUSE:
I was discriminated against for some reason.
IS THIS VALID OR INVALID?
Discrimination of any kind within the candidate screening and selection process is always invalid. Despite that, it is still a common practice for various kinds of companies across the country. What makes it so difficult to eliminate is that smarter companies will not tell you outright that they are evaluating your qualifications based on your age, sex, gender, educational background or other factors.
However, carefully observing how recruiters process your application can help you detect if they’re discriminating you or not. They will be too focused on finding out your age, marital status or other information that have no bearing at all on your performance. Another common scenario you might observe is when people with disabilities are rejected for most jobs, even if they had not been given a chance to prove that they have created alternative ways to accomplish what most other people can. When you encounter this kind of treatment, take the necessary actions to protect yourself.
WHAT CAN I DO?
- Be professional. Being treated unfairly is not an excuse to stop being professional. It’s the only thing that separates them from you and gives you the moral high ground, so maintain courtesy at all times even when pointing out their discriminatory practices.
- Ask for clarification. Some questions might sound discriminatory, but are actually valid questions given the context. See if there are any follow-up questions, and always ask if there is any particular connection between the question and the responsibilities of the position.
- Do not be confrontational. If the question is invalid and discriminatory, you may refuse to answer and politely point out that it is a form of discrimination. However, do not raise your voice or put yourself in a position where they can use your attitude as justification for rejecting you.
- When possible, insist on speaking to the management. Depending on the company, discriminatory screening practices may just be the fault of one recruiter or their core team. In such cases, top management may not actually be aware of what’s happening and they would appreciate any feedback you can provide. After all, a candidate is also considered the company’s “customer” who receives “service” from the recruitment team. The management would be more than willing to resolve any incidents of discrimination in order to promote good service and prevent damage to the company’s reputation.
- Contact state or other external authorities. Usually, the company’s top management is just unaware of the discrimination happening. But there are cases where they actually encourage their recruiters to be biased towards certain candidates and against others. Whichever the case may be, it is always a good idea to report incidents to an external authority who will not cover up the company’s misconduct. The government’s labor agency is a good source of support when you encounter discrimination, since they will most likely collaborate with the offenders to enact long-term corrections. Long-term solutions to this problem will ensure that you, or anyone else, will not have to experience it again.
Discrimination in a professional environment is never okay, just as it is never okay anywhere. The Philippine government had actually passed a law in 2016 – R.A. 10911 or the Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act – that prohibits discrimination by age. The law is now in full effect after the leadership of the Department of Labor & Employment signed its implementing rules and regulations in early 2017. The law upholds the principle that age is not an automatic representation of a professional’s capabilities. Age is also not a reliable indicator of fitness for work, which can be determined through proper medical examination.
Age is just one way that some companies are exercising their biases. The Philippines is far from total prohibition of employment discrimination. However, R.A. 10911 is one of many laws that may be able to protect career-seekers moving forward. Such laws only become possible through consistent action against discrimination, which starts with victims not tolerating it and reporting incidents to company leaders and state authorities. The best way to fight discrimination is to speak out against it and help the government put an end to it. With your determination, discrimination in the hiring process can become a thing of the past.
Keep following this series in the following weeks as we identify other reasons that employers reject job applications, and propose ways that you can cope with them. Keep that determination burning!