Religion, politics, sexuality, and job hunting

Muslim Sharia Law was the final standard for a company I knew well.  Not Iran or Taliban style Sharia Law, but their own internal version.  Most people who worked there didn’t care at all. However, bringing a gal other than your wife to the company picnic could get you fired.  All doors to offices had a glass window so you could be seen if you were in there with a member of the opposite sex.  No alcohol was allowed on the property and ham sandwiches were discouraged.  Christians, Jews and atheists were happy to work there and hardly noticed a thing.  You just had to know the pressure points, what the rules really meant.

That one US company combined religion, politics and sexual repression all on the job.  Some people loved it.  For that company, it was a sweet spot.  It was where they wanted to be.  They associated with people that made them feel comfortable.

Bring those “Sharia Law” ideas into most interviews and you will not be hired. Companies are into frictionless relations.  Don’t bother each other, work together as a team, and win while getting along.

In Carlisle, PA there was a freshly minted CPA who was upset because she felt she couldn’t put up her “Gay Pride” banner on the wall of her office.  What she didn’t think about was that there weren’t any swimsuit calendars on the walls either.  That office was a rigidly traditional suit and tie business.  They were accountants tracking people’s money, not activists.

20 miles to the east there is an office where you had better consider gay activism as a benign activity.  It seems everyone in the office is into it.

I know one company where the owners and workers all switch political parties depending on who the governor of the state is.  If you can’t change, don’t apply for a job.

How do you find these kinds of things out?  First of all be in touch with your feelings.  If something is not right and you don’t know what, say, “What do I need to know about the unwritten office rules?  Are there any rules or expectations that some people would consider unusual here?” Expect your interviewer not to understand.  Gently probe.

Religion, politics and sexuality may be very important in your job hunting.  If they are, make sure people know it.  But you also need to understand that it may extend your job hunt to a very long period of time.

Something to do today

Make sure you know who you are and what you will put up with.  It may make a huge difference in where you go to work.

If you have a pet peeve or interest, write down two or three questions that will help you evaluate the office atmosphere of the places you are applying to for work.


next time:

“People shopping less” affects your job search

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