Dealing with Discrimination During Your Job Hunt

In an ideal workplace, staff would be hired based on work ethic, education and experience. Unfortunately, some employers may still be behind the times.

For new immigrants to Canada, employment experts offer five key pieces of advice on how to handle the sensitive situation of prejudice during a job hunt.

1. Assess the situation.

Decide if you want to work in an environment where prejudice is present. “If you get flustered in an interview,” advises Terri Gulliver, a job search facilitator with Diversity, “assess if the placement is one you want to pursue. Apply common sense and recognize this person has been designated to represent the company. Maybe this is a company you don’t want to work for.”

2. Eliminate objections.

If you do decide you would like to pursue the job, prepare responses for any objections in advance. If an employer says you have no experience in Canada, draw attention to your skills and strengths. “The idea is not to say you have no experience,” Gulliver notes. “Project a little confidence around the question. Many of the skills are transferable, no matter what country you work in.”

3. Address the issue.

Be polite but assertive. If you feel comfortable, confront the prejudiced person involved in the hiring process. According to Stuart Headley, case manager for Progressive Intercultural Community Services: “The best thing to do is talk to the person involved privately and see what happens from there. If that doesn’t work, talk to a supervisor.” This may not guarantee you the job, of course, but the company will have been alerted to a serious problem with its recruitment.

4. Develop a support system.

Looking for a job can be emotionally exhausting, especially if you face racism or cultural discrimination. “As a new Canadian, it’s an overwhelming experience. Try to prepare yourself emotionally and financially for some hard times,” recommends Gulliver, who encourages immigrants to join local job clubs and employment programs offered through Service Canada.

5. Keep positive.

If you run into a problem with prejudice during your job search, try not to take it personally. “Recognize it was a small glitch in the pathway and carry on,” coaches Gulliver.