On my first day working for a boutique recruiting firm in Los Angeles, I interviewed an incredible candidate: Jess*. She went to an ivy league school, she was articulate, she was knowledgeable, she had KILLER internships. She was literally ready made perfect for more than half the positions we were recruiting for.
I left her excitedly in the interview room and ran to my boss's desk - let's call her Kate* - to tell her I had found the candidate of the year! Kate gave Jess's resume a glance, and got the same star-y-eyed look I had - or maybe hers was more dollar signs. Either way - she was excited. She quickly turned to her desktop and entered Jess's full name into google.
"If they seem great, always google them, they might be crazy," she said without even turning away from her computer.
She scrolled through the first few results, deemed there was nothing outlandish and clicked into Jess's LinkedIn page.
"Oh no, is she lying? Is she crazy?" I asked both confused and disappointed.
"No, no, not that." She paused. "She's just not really the right 'polish-level' for our clients."
In that moment two things ran through my head: (1) what the fuck does 'polish-level' mean? (2) It better not mean what I think it does.
Surprise, surprise - it does. That's pretty much recruiter speak for 'she isn't pretty enough.'
In a split second my excitement turned to rage, and even faster into disappointment - I had just signed a year long contract, and I had no intentions of low-key becoming an administrative pimp. I was horrified.
"I know how awful that is to say, but the reality is, I know my clients won't hire her. So what's the point in setting her up for disappointment, and wasting everyones' time?"
I wanted to hate Kate for being so shallow, but I paused and realized, as terrible as it was, she was probably right. At the end of the day, it wasn't her that was being shallow, it was her clients (I decided I was allowed to hate them). She was just doing her job, and part of that job was realizing that certain clients have certain particularities that you have to cater to. And if you don't, you're not getting paid, regardless of how you feel about those particularities.
It's sad to think that in 2017 some employers still have such ridiculous - and if they were ever actually stated out loud or in writing, illegal - standards. But some do, and I'm of the mindset that if that is the reason you didn't get a job, you wouldn't have liked it there anyways.
The first time I heard myself say the words 'polish-level' out loud, I knew I had to get out. While I understand that the judgement side of the business was a reality recruiters just have to deal with, it wasn't something I could deal with. So I left halfway through my contract and didn't look back.
I won't be getting a good reference from them, but hey, I probably wasn't the right polish-level, anyway.
*names have been changed
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