Free your mind, and the rest will follow. Be colourblind, don’t be so shallow.

Prejudice is a funny thing. Not funny ha-ha, but funny strange. Mostly because we all have them. Whether they are ingrained through culture/our upbringing or a behaviour learned through experience, we treat people differently based on a set of values. A recent article from the BBC highlights this to the extreme where a qualified candidate is rejected based on a cultural stereotype.

There are two areas connected to careers that I would like to pick up on. The first is around the prejudice of an interviewer. We are often asked, predominantly by international students, about whether to use their real name on applications for fear of being rejected for sounding ‘too foreign’. In itself an odd thing to deal with, but it begs the question ‘do you want to work for a company that doesn’t employ staff based on the foreignness of their name rather than ability to do the job?’.

This is very easy to ask when I am being paid to sit at my desk and write this article, but the point stands. We are also asked by British students with an international heritage whether they should indicate their nationality for fear of being thought of as international. Every part of me wants to scream ‘NO! Of course not!’, however, if in any way it will help, then yes, probably we should bow to the prejudices of others (if this is indeed their prejudice of choice) and highlight that you happen to have been born here.

The other side of prejudice that we see a lot in careers is the prejudice of applicants towards employers based on brand recognition. We organise for hundreds of employers to come onto campus every year and almost without fail, we can predict the popular talks, and those that get just a few attendees. An excellent example is FactSet who are a financial information management company. They are a big company with an impressive client list. They look after their staff very well and everyone that I have met that works there is very happy indeed. But FactSet does not yet have the same brand recognition as Bloomberg, and this is reflected in attendance at on campus events – despite doing very similar work.

Equally, small business workshops are very poorly attended. The bizarre fact here is that as an employee in a small or medium sized company, you will see more of the business, you will achieve huge amounts and the prospects for promotion or moving on to another company are arguably better.

My challenge to you is to think beyond the brands and consider the work you want to do. A Careers Adviser can help with this and you may just find that you are making a better decision for your future.

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