MediaLad’s Week in Digital Media: Penalised for having a baby?

Who’s MediaLad? In digital media, everyone pretends they know who he, or she, is. We do. Or do we? What we do know is that MediaLad is NDA’s new regular columnist, providing his/her unique, irreverent view of the latest gossip and goings-on in the digital media industry.

I’m going to start sharing some of my interview/job application processes to highlight some real bullshit in this arse ache of an industry. I won’t give company names, as you never know where you’ll end up, but it shows there are still processes that are severely flawed.

Paternity problems?

How about a major publisher that hires someone that isn’t having a baby, ahead of someone that is. This is important because it highlights a major fuck up in either feedback or, god forbid, a new type of bias. The underlying advice is to not be too personable in interviews if you’re male let alone female.

The process was going so well with a lot of technical and commercial questions thrown around yet in the end feedback came out that the candidate applying was not “as experienced” as the candidate they eventually hired.

Frantically to find out who that candidate was, they eventually popped up on LinkedIn with their new title. With three years’ less experience.

The process all took place via a phone call or video call too. What’s that about? How do you know if you feel a connection or rapport with someone on a bloody video call? That shit has got to stop.

How can someone with 3 years’ less experience, get a role that you’re actually over qualified for? And feedback is “not experienced enough.”

Lazy, but then the penny drops when there’s a press release about said publisher and its paternity policy, equalling the maternal rights. As I’d told them about my imminent new baby, I couldn’t help but wonder if that was possibly a factor in the decision-making process.

Needless to say, this is speculative and there could have been an honest reason, but if you want to judge, ask and I’ll show you the comparison over a beer so you can judge for yourself. (Bias is everything, isn’t it?!).

Acknowledge your own biases

Consistency in hiring is required in this industry. When trying to hire for something, have a value or principle and stick to it. Otherwise it just ends up looking really stupid when you hire someone that doesn’t fit the feedback you gave to other candidates.

Even in my current role there was controversy as to how I ended up being interviewed, which was based on my persistence to prove the hiring manager wrong.

Should it have to come to that? I say yes, if it’s necessary. Don’t be pigeonholed. Don’t settle for whatever someone has assumed about you and your competencies.

The hiring manager responsible actually said to me that they don’t hire from a specific career background; as such people don’t tend to do well in their company type. I said I was different, and I could prove it.

It was only because I had a referral that I managed to get an interview, impress and eventually secure a job. I’m one of their longest serving people now. This just goes to show we all have biases and should address that when having conversations about potential new employees.

*More stories from the interview front line next time

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