Ask James Caan – Issue 99
Nobody should have to put up with discrimination in the workplace. While there is legislation in place to try and prevent it from happening, it still continues to crop-up and when it does, it is something that everyone should take very seriously.
For example, recent statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions show that age related discrimination and stereotyping remains firmly rooted in British society. This is shocking, as the government predicts that by 2020 there will be around 25 million people in the UK, over the age of 50. As employers, we must ensure we work together to ensure every applicant is treated equally and fairly.
As with all kinds of discrimination, it is damaging and unjustified and needs to be addressed.
Just recently I received this email from Rizwan:
‘I am suffering a lot because of it and still cannot step onto the career ladder, despite being an IT graduate. I suffer from partial stammering, which makes me nervous, especially over the phone.
‘I have been buzzed off by quite a few recruiters who interviewed me and to be honest I can understand their business point of view, as they want to hire the best person for the job. Please let me know how I can deal with this problem in the job-seeking process and in interviews, because as time goes on it is destroying my confidence.’
Firstly Rizwan, you are not alone in this. I know of many people who suffer with speech impediments and are happily employed. You say that you ‘can understand’ why recruiters aren’t hiring you. This is entirely unfounded.
There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be considered for any role which you are qualified to do. It’s important that you acknowledge this fact, as by adopting a defeatist attitude you are effectively justifying the discrimination against you.
Naturally, your confidence has dropped a bit in the face of adversity, but you must reinsert a belief in yourself and your abilities. Like I tell everyone, if a job interview doesn’t go your way, don’t dwell on it. Immediately look for what you can learn from the experience and come away stronger.
When we have a bad experience, it’s easy to harbour feelings of negativity, which can then affect how we react the next time a similar situation arises. You need to break this cycle and start thinking positively about interviews and interacting over the phone.
Do this by envisaging yourself holding a conversation with a potential employer. Imagine feeling relaxed and in control and able to respond effectively and with ease. By attaching positive emotions to a bad situation in your head, you change the way you act when the situation occurs in real life.
You could also try imagining that you are talking to a close friend instead of the interviewee, or conducting practise calls to build-up your confidence. The British Stammering Association (http://stammering.org/) provides a lot of good advice for people with stammers and methods to help overcome the problem. It’s also worth seeking professional advice on the matter.
Whatever you find works, remember that you have a lot to offer and nothing should hold you back from getting the job you really want.
Thank you for getting in touch, Rizwan.
I wish you the very best in your future employment.