I am incensed about this story, which appeared Saturday July 28 on the cover of the Arizona Living section of the Arizona republic.
Entitled ‘Fired Before You’re Hired: Online postings, too-revealing resumes put job seekers at risk’, by Lisa Nicita, the story begins by describing a recent incident featuring the personal MySpace page of a job hunting twenty-something young woman named Heather in Phoenix, Arizona, which has been perused by a potential employer prior to an in person meeting, revealing pictures from her youth of drinking and various shenanigans (none illegal or immoral), resulting in her immediate exclusion, and refusal of an interview opportunity for consideration by this hiring manager.
The article goes on to present what is supposed to be a ‘case’ for the premise that the solution is for young people to be careful what they let employers see online regarding their past.
Why was I so offended by this article?
First, because it comes across as something that simply represents the story idea du jour of the reporter, and yet is presented under the mantle of credibility of the Arizona Republic as a ‘trend piece’, which perpetuates and encourages discrimination and negative stereotyping in hiring practices, and which does a disservice to every constituency referenced in the article – Phoenicians, the young, women, the employer mentioned, and all of their customers.
To make matters worse, the paper has exported this negative-impression piece in the form of it’s national distribution to major cities across the US where right now the best and brightest from universities everywhere are making plans to launch their careers.
They are asking themselves ‘Which city will be the next major nexus of economic velocity in America?’. And they will ask, ‘Which locations value human capital, the free flow of ideas, the growth of entrepreneurial business, and who is putting out the welcome mat for young professionals by doing everything they can to attract me and my peers?’.
They will read this online as a result of their Googling, and will imagine, rightly, that Phoenix is a place which encourages ludicrous hiring attitudes, discrimination against the young, and hypocrisy in employment practices.
We should be doing all we can as a community to attract and develop the YouTube generation as an engine of economic opportunity for Phoenix, rather than giving them good reason to shun our city in favor of other more enlightened, inclusive locations.
Oh one more thing – in case I forgot to mention it – Heather was actually applying for a job at 103.9 KEDJ-FM, The Edge – one of only two sex-drugs-rock-n-roll radio stations in Phoenix! So the Promotions Director for the station, in excluding Heather because he saw a pic of her drinking from a beer bong on her MySpace page, was in effect saying to all of that station’s customers – ‘If you live the lifestyle we promote, you aren’t good enough to work here’. I wonder how the CEO of Riviera Broadcast Group, Tom Pohlman, (http://www.rivierabroadcast.com/executiveteam.html), the owner of 103.9 KEDJ-FM, which employs the gentleman above, Joshua Bassett, will feel about that when he reads this post. Feel free to email him directly to suggest more enlightened hiring practices be implemented at his Phoenix station: firstname.lastname@example.org