As a person of color, you face unique challenges during a job search. How do you overcome those challenges to find your dream job? Begin by knowing what elements matter most to you, says Find Your Dream Job guest María Granados. Ask about initiatives the company sponsors and any partnerships with underprivileged communities. María advises following up after interviews and having conversations with your potential team members to learn how the employer practices diversity, equity, and inclusion within the company and in the community.
About Our Guest:
Resources in This Episode:
- Learn more about Reed College and how they are leveling the hiring field through equity, diversity, and inclusion by visiting www.reed.edu/.
- From our Sponsor: Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. Get a free review of your resume today from one of TopResume’s expert writers.
Find Your Dream Job, Episode 378:
Navigating a Job Search as a Person of Color, with María Granados
Airdate: December 14, 2022
This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.
I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.
Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.
Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster.
Get a free review of your resume today.
Go to macslist.org/topresume.
Systemic racial discrimination in hiring is real, and it happens every day.
A recent study, for example, found that applications with distinctly black names were about 10% less likely to get a call back than comparable applications with distinctly white names.
María Granados is here to talk about how to navigate a job search as a person of color.
She’s a human resources coordinator at Reed College and a graduate of Portland State University.
She joins us from Portland, Oregon.
Well, let’s jump right into it, María. What challenges do people of color face during a job search?
Right, one of the challenges that people of color face during job searches, one that comes to mind, is having to explain, you know, your changes, or your transitions in your job search, and why you’ve moved places, and I’ve had conversations with a lot of colleagues of, you know, of color that, you know, we have to be our own advocate a lot of the times, and look for those opportunities. And so, sometimes, when employers do see those, you know, those changes in positions or of employers, at times, they might question it, and so, that’s one of the challenges.
And I think a second challenge that people of color face is not seeing enough representation in your job search, and so, that might discourage you as a person of color in, you know, feeling like you belong somewhere, especially if you’re not seeing that representation, and those people that can speak to your experience, and, you know, people who you can share identity with.
How do those challenges affect a person of color, both in their job search and in their career? Questions about frequency of, or just changing positions, and not seeing that representation. What effect does that have, both on a person’s job search and career?
Great, yeah. So, one of the things is, it makes it difficult for you, you know, to feel like you have to continue to explain yourself or, you know, explain those transitions, and then, too, it just elongates the job search process, in general. You know, something that- a job search process that might take, you know, typically a couple of weeks, might take longer, and you’re having to really go out there and do your research, and find those employers that speak to you, and speak to your identity.
What if you’re a person of color, you’re getting those questions about changes you’ve made in different jobs, or you don’t see that representation; will you still pursue opportunities with that firm? Or will you look elsewhere?
Yeah, so I’ve, personally, from, you know, having lived it, a lot of the times, you know, it kind of, you know, lures you away a little bit, and you feel like there, you know, they might be questioning, you know, either your knowledge or your experience. Because you’ve only been at certain places for a short period of time. But quite honestly, you know, people of color have to be, you know, their own advocate and have to go out and look for those positions that give them those opportunities.
And so, really, what you’re doing when you’re sitting and having, you know, an interview is you’re having to prove to the interviewer that, you know, that, you’re able to take this opportunity, and if given to it, you are gonna be able to do X, Y, and Z with it. And so, you know, that poses a challenge versus, you know, somebody that might not identify as a person of color, in, you know, you having to make, to justify, or to really explain yourself and your experience.
What trends are you seeing, María, affecting people of color during a job search? Are there fewer or more challenges these days compared to, say, five or ten years ago?
Yeah, I would say, I would say that it’s gotten a little bit better, I would say, because we’re able to have these open conversations as employers. As before, it was more, I feel, more taboo to talk about, you know, folks that hold different identities. And so, I think, now we’re at this crucial point in recruiting world where, you know, you’re able to have these candid conversations. But there’s still that group of folks that, you know, are not ready to make that transition, and so, to answer your question, Mac, I think that it’s sort of a mix right now.
And so, I would say, it has gotten better. But we still have a lot of work to do in that space. And so, I’m confident that things will continue to get better as we have these conversations between employers and also, you know, employers creating more partnerships outside of just HR. Right? Creating partnerships with, you know, either your diversity and equity and inclusion team that you might have. And so, you know, I’m confident that as those partnerships happen, these conversations and the experience for people of color will be a lot easier.
Well, let’s talk about your recommendations for navigating a job search as a person of color. One of your first suggestions, María, is to find out about an employer’s initiatives to promote equity. Why is this important?
Right, yeah. This is crucial. I mean, when you think about, you know, an initiative, it’s really tied to the mission and the values of the organization. And so, if you’re not seeing that anything is coming out of that organization, for example, one example I’ll use is the Reed statement on, you know, Reed has an anti-racist statement. And so, you know, what that says is, they’re recognizing racism for what it is, recognizing the expectation, and from that, a lot of initiatives come out of that.
And so, if organizations are not able to articulate that and recognize that, and then put it into action, you know, that says a lot about the organization. It says a lot about their culture that exists. Perhaps a culture that is not ready to have those candid and crucial conversations, and in effect, it does affect, you know, employees. It does affect, specifically, employees of color where, you know, there isn’t that space for these conversations to happen.
So look for these statements when you’re considering applying for positions with an employer or perhaps interviewing there. What other questions do you recommend people of color who are navigating a job search ask about an employer’s initiatives to promote equity?
Yeah, so I think one important thing is to talk about, you know, what affinity groups are, you know, in your organization. You know, ask, you know, what other organizations are they supporting? You know, and so, those are two really crucial things to ask, especially, you know, those affinity groups because those are where a lot of those conversations start. Right? This is where, you know, you bring community, and from there, you’re able to partner outside of that affinity group to different departments in an organization. And so, I think those are two very important questions to be asking an employer.
This is terrific, María. We’re gonna take a break. When we come back, María Granados will continue to share her advice on navigating a job search as a person of color. Stay with us.
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Now, let’s get back to the show.
We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with María Granados.
She’s a human resources coordinator at Reed College and a graduate of Portland State University.
She joins us from Portland, Oregon.
Well, María, before the break, we were talking about navigating a job search as a person of color, and one of your first tips was to find out about an employer’s initiatives to promote equity.
Another idea you suggest for navigating a job search when you’re a person of color is to consider the hiring process. Tell us more about this, María.
Yeah. So, you know, the hiring process is really where it all really begins. Right? And so, when you’re having these conversations with employers, you know, make sure that you ask them, you know, how does the hiring process work for you? You know, ask them if they have search committees that they put together, you know, and definitely pay attention to who is in the room when you are being interviewed. A lot of the times, if you’re not seeing that representation in the search committee or in the hiring process, you know, that’s usually a red flag, and that tells you a lot about, you know, the thought that they put into the search.
So, you know, one great example is, you know, at Reed, we have a very thoughtful search committee process that we have. So, you know, we try to invite people from different departments that, you know, this person would be interfacing with, and then also people, you know, with different identities. Because it allows those conversations to happen, and it allows, you know, people with different experiences to be able to, one, share their personal experience, two, you know, bring in a different lens in the recruitment. And so, being able to ask those employers, you know, both directly and also, you know, take a moment to just observe their process, you know, is really important, and is really key to, you know, really set up the stage for, you know, what to expect in an organization.
You mentioned a lack of representation in the hiring process being a red flag that you should pay attention to. What are some other red flags that you should keep an eye out for, María?
Yeah, another red flag, I think, just in general in the hiring process is, you know, how accessible is the hiring process itself? Right? Are they putting a bunch of loops, you know, for you to have to go through, or hoops I guess I should use, for you to go through? Or is it a search process that’s, you know, that’s inclusive? That is open to being able to accommodate different needs that you might have and just making the overall process both efficient, thoughtful, and also without so many barriers.
And so, that sometimes can be a challenge at times. Right? Especially when you have a search committee with having to deal with people that, you know, are on different timelines. But if you’re able to streamline that and really focus on, you know, creating that great experience for candidates, especially, you know, candidates of color. Making things a lot more accessible, you know, it’s gonna pay off. And so, as a candidate, if you’re not seeing that, you know, it’s also another red flag.
What about in interviews? Are there any missteps that you should keep an eye out for and pay attention to when you’re navigating a job search as a person of color?
Yeah, I would say one of them is just if you’re seeing a lack of follow-through from the employer and not checking in with you, even if they’re still in that process of interviewing people. If they’re not checking in with you and keeping you engaged, I think that’s a huge misstep, and something that employers do, sadly, too often is, you know, just not being communicative with that candidate.
And so, you know, not just, you know, not just for specifically for people of color, but really all candidates, in general. It’s when employers do do that. It just tells them, you know, the story it tells the candidate is that they really don’t care or they’re just not being, you know, they’re just not interested in me, or they’re not being considerate of my time. And so, that’s one thing that I can see being a misstep in your interview.
Another suggestion you have for navigating a job search as a person of color is to ask the employer about professional development opportunities. Tell us more about this, María. Why is this important?
Yeah, this, I think, is the heart of it. I think that if employers are not upfront and are not as transparent in what professional development looks like as, you know, any candidate. I mean, at that point, I think you need to walk away. Right? Professional development is key for anybody, but specifically for people who, historically, it’s been a challenge. It’s been a challenge for them to be recognized for promotions, for opportunities.
And so, I think, as a candidate, it is super important for you to be very candid with your prospective employer. And ask them what does professional development look like? Not just to the hiring manager, but, you know, I hope that during that interview process, you have some alone time with the team.
But also ask them what does professional development look like? Is it built into your budget? How do you access it? Is it something that, you know, is open to everybody? You know, how inclusive is the process of professional development? You know, is it left to the discretion of the manager? Is it, you know, an organization-wide policy or expectation that you’re given this opportunity for professional development?
So, I think those are very important questions to ask. But my recommendation is for candidates to ask that specifically to your teams. For them to give their experience of what professional development is like.
Why do you recommend talking to the team about this, in addition to the manager? Why is that valuable?
Yeah, I think that you know, a lot of those answers that they’ll give you are gonna be more raw answers. They’re gonna be more candid answers. You know, sometimes, you know, having a manager there, you, you may or may not be able to be as candid as you’d like to be. You know, just for, you know, maintaining the integrity of the search and being able to hire somebody so you might say what they want to hear. Right?
But I think it’s important to know their experience. Right? Because they’re the ones that are doing the work. They’re the ones that are living that experience, you know, as a staff or as an employee in an organization. And so, I think that their experience is very valuable to you as a candidate.
And so, one example I’ll use is during our search process, we carve out some time for the candidate to have lunch with the team. And so, that’s the, I think, the opportunity where it’s sort of that offline opportunity to ask those questions where there’s really no right or wrong answer to ask at that point because you’re not technically interviewing at that point, you’re more conversation. And so, yeah. So, that’s another recommendation I have.
Another tip on your list of ways to navigate a job search as a person of color is to find out about an employer’s community partnerships, and you mentioned this a little bit. You touched on this in the first segment. But tell us more about community partnerships. Why do they matter? And what kinds of partnerships are most important?
Yeah, so I’m gonna speak again to those affiliate groups. Right? So, you know, or organizations that they might donate to, that they might have partnership with such as, you know, a volunteer opportunity at a certain organization. And so, if those organizations speak to you, and they support marginalized, historically marginalized communities. That says a lot. That says that they recognize and they want to be able to provide support to those organizations.
So, you know, one thing that I can think of is like, you know, does your organization, for example, partner with, like, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce? If you’re somebody that holds that identity, you know, there might be opportunities for you to one, you know, maybe network with those people and get their experience. But two, it goes back to that recognition piece. Right?
So, a lot of the times, you know, there’s a saying that, you know, like minds, you know, organizations that partner with other organizations, they have very similar missions and values. And so, again, that’s another opportunity for you to see how inclusive your prospective employer is. You know, are they recognizing needs? Are they providing support to people that hold similar identities as you?
Well, María, it’s been a terrific conversation. Now, tell us, what’s next for you?
Yeah, so what’s next for me, you know, continuing to support, you know, Reed and initiatives that they have, specifically, you know, from an inclusive standpoint. You know, we’ve done a lot of great work. But we need to continue to do a lot more great work.
And so, some of the things that we’re working on in our office are having, you know, more partnerships with different affinity groups on campus. To be able to have those conversations. And then, also just being able to continue to – my passion is in recruiting, so continuing to streamline that recruiting process to, you know, make it more accessible for people of color. And yeah, so that’s what’s next for me. To continue to focus on that.
Well, that’s wonderful. I know, María, listeners can learn more about you by visiting your LinkedIn page. We’ll be sure to include a link to your LinkedIn page both in our Newsletter and in our website article, and if they do reach out to you, I hope that they’ll mention they heard you on the show.
Now, María, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about navigating a job search as a person of color?
I would say, be your own advocate. I would say, you know, from experience in this crazy world of, you know, endless job opportunities, especially now in this time that we’re in is, you need to be your own advocate as a person of color. You need to ask those candid questions. You need to be gracefully unapologetic and really press employers for that information that you’re looking for. At the end of the day, we spend more time at work than we do at home. And so, that would be my words of wisdom to our listeners.
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Next week our guest will be Gregory Heller.
He’s the senior associate director of MBA career management at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington.
Do you struggle with promoting yourself when you talk to a hiring manager?
Gregory says if you want to stand out from your competitors, you need to understand and tell employers what you do best.
Join us next Wednesday when Gregory Heller and I discuss how to talk about your strengths in a job interview.
Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.
This show is produced by Mac’s List.
This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.