It Just Might Be A Coincidence
It is official. I have a new job. I start work at another Fortune 500 corporation come Monday morning as a Microsoft Access developer. I’m going to work as a consultant again. Being a consultant isn’t as secure as being in a permanent position. But these days, who can afford to complain. And I took a slight dip in pay to get back into the job market. I was no Rockefeller by any stretch of the imagination. But I’d rather take a slight dip to do Access, something I love, than to work someplace as whatever making minimum wage, a job chances are I’d hate.
In the two and a half months I’ve been unemployed I’ve only had one face to face with a prospective employer. I’ve had several interviews with headhunters. They’re all impressed with my credentials. But to really sell my skills, a couple of these headhunters have asked me to take an Access proficiency test to prove that I can do what I say I can on my resume. In both of the test I took I managed to score in the top ten percentile. One headhunter even told me that I got the highest score his office had ever seen. But for some reason, those high test scores and my resume couldn’t manifest a job interview with the actual employer. In the one job interview that I did manage to get, the following week I was told that I just missed being their top choice by a razor’s edge. Big fucking deal I say. If I didn’t get the job I might as well turn up last.
The process for getting this job was a lot different. I got a call from a small, no name consulting group about three weeks ago asking if I was still on the market, yes, and if I would be interested in a job with their client, another yes. I sent the company an updated copy of my resume and put them out of my mind. If they are going to call back then they will call back. I wasn’t going to generate any gray hairs hoping that they would call. And after a few days it totally slipped my mind.
When the headhunter called back last week I had forgotten all about the job. The rep apologized for not staying in touch, but said that the client took their time to collect resumes, weeded through their collection to find three candidates. And I had made the cut. They wanted to interview me. The only openings they had for the interviews was the very next day at a time I had made an appointment to have lunch with a friend. I told the rep I had a previous appointment and that I was unavailable. He understood with everything being so last minute and asked if I would be willing to interview the following Monday. It was going to be a technical interview conducted over the phone with four of the client’s employees. My Monday calendar was wide open and we arranged for a phone interview late in the morning.
The interview went well. One of the employees couldn’t make it. But my potential manager was there and two other techies. The two weren’t Access experts. They dabbled with the environment. But their specialties were elsewhere. I was being hired to compliment their work. My experience at my last job was ideal for this opening. They had a mainframe application that needed to feed a secondary database that would serve as an inquiry system. That kind of work was right up my alley.
The interview was short and sweet. I felt it was a little too short. I was actually enjoying the discussion. Twenty minutes into the call the manager said that she had all the information she needed and asked her colleagues if they had anything else to add. Nope. I asked a few more questions about their working arrangement, trying to convince them I had an interest in what they were doing when all I wanted was a job. And then the phone call was done. The manager gave me her email address before we disconnected. I waited a few minutes and then took a moment to send a thank you note. The next day the headhunter called and told me I had the job.
All’s well that ends well, right? Except, I started thinking how easy and quickly I got this job even when I wasn’t being as cooperative as I normally would. Whenever I was called for an interview I would break whatever appointment I may have previously made. I want the employer to know that I’m ready and eager. What made the difference?
It might just be coincidence, but this was the first job I ever got without ever having a face to face interview with anybody. People at the headhunter consulting company don’t know what I look like and the client has no clue what I look like. Come Monday morning I’ll be walking into the employer’s office for the very first time in my most impressive business attire with five year old locks growing off my head. Hopefully it will be too late for anybody to object. But it will be interesting to see people’s reaction nevertheless.
I have always said that if given a fair opportunity to be judged by my skills and my ability to sell myself, chances are I will get the opportunity. I do believe the problem comes when people see that I am a black man. Suddenly, there are doubts that I can do what I say or that I have the integrity to do my job with the utmost professionalism. Add the fact that I have an unconventional hairstyle for most black men in a business environment and I might as well put nails in opportunity’s coffin.
A lot of people believe that race is not a factor when people apply for opportunities. I just so happen to be one of the people who know better. If we can honestly take people’s race out of the picture and give opportunities to people who are indeed the best candidate for the job things will go better for us all. I know I can compete with anybody when it comes to doing what I do. It’s unfortunate that when other people look at me that they will let what they see influence their decision so much.