If a job posting asks for 10+ years java programming experience and I claim to have 20 years of experience on my resume, I would be a bold-faced liar. As soon as any potential employer sat me down in front of a computer, my lie would be revealed and I would not be offered the job. I was the one who was wrong in this instance, by lying and wasting someone else’s time. Now what if instead I, a woman, craft my resume in a way that leaves my gender in question. If my potential employer selects me for an interview expecting and hoping for a man, isn’t he or she the one in the wrong?
Anti-discrimination laws may exist, but they can be hard to enforce, especially at the hiring stage. How could you prove that your application was rejected based on gender, race, age, religion, national origin, or a disability? The employer could just say that someone with a different skill set was a better fit for the position. This is why I think it is perfectly acceptable to make your resume as gender-, race-, age-, religion-, nationality-, and disability-neutral as possible.
I will use a personal example to illustrate my point. I know that being a woman has nothing to do with my ability to manage a database or write SQL scripts, but I also know that not everyone thinks this way. Information systems and technology is still a man’s world and women can find it hard to be taken seriously. If my resume were completely identical to a man’s, I feel that more often than not he would be chosen for a position simply because his gender is seen as an advantage to the job. What do I do when my gender, which has no bearing on my set of skills, actually puts me at a disadvantage in the eyes of some people? My only hope is to create a resume that highlights my skills and qualifications without revealing my gender. I do not have to lie. I can just leave out my involvement in Women in Technology or my work at a women’s homeless shelter, both of which hint at my gender. This way, I can at least make it to the interview stage and have a chance to show that I truly am qualified for the job, rather than having my resume completely passed over simply because I am a woman.
Now consider classes of individuals who are not protected by anti-discrimination laws. For example, less than half of U.S. states protect homosexuals from discrimination. Do people in the LGBT community have a right to keep their sexual orientation a secret in their pursuance of a career? I say yes. Discrimination against homosexuals and transgendered individuals is a huge problem today. Some employers may have personal stereotypes against these individuals that would cause them to choose a less qualified applicant over an applicant who is homosexual. Why should a member of the LGBT community have to disclose their sexual orientation, when they could work their entire lives without anyone even knowing? In my opinion, they should be able to keep this information to themselves if they choose.
Some people may say this omission of truth is wrong. I disagree, because no one is hurt in this situation. In fact, both parties benefit. The applicant benefits by getting an interview, and potentially a job. The employer benefits by adding a well-qualified applicant they otherwise would have missed to their pool of candidates to choose from for the position.
While lying about skills and qualifications is surely wrong, omitting something about yourself that is irrelevant to the job, but would be used against you, is not. To me, this levels the playing field, allowing everyone to be considered for opportunities based solely on the skills they possess and the work they have done rather than the unchangeable traits they were born with.
- “LGBT Rights in the United States.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 June 2014. Web. 07 Sept. 2014.