Recruitment cancer in Lebanon: 20 reasons why you might not get the job

Every now and then we have stories like that (thank you to @ghazayel for sharing it):

and people get offended.

Every now and then we have stories like that:

and people get offended.

But let me tell you something while some companies go public with their discrimination, most of them nurture this way of thinking internally and even make it their culture.

The worst part is that discrimination in recruitment is happening based on almost anything you can imagine.

You saw a job ad, you sent your CV. Here are 20 reasons why you might not get the job before or after the interview:

1- Name

One of the most overlooked discrimination factor is the applicant’s name.

A recruitment agency who got paid good money from a company from KSA for example will look into something in your name that not only indicates whether you are a Male/Female or Christian/Muslim, but even Shiite/Sunni etc; that’s gender, religion AND sect. Should they be unable to get the info from the resume, they will call you and try to pick the info up from your accent during the conversation.

This does not apply to overseas recruitment anymore, but also to companies in Lebanon.

When your name happens to be gender neutral like “Nour”, “Farah” etc… and your’re attending a recruitment event or visiting companies to give them your CV by hand etc… indications will be written on it like: Male/Female among other things.

2- Gender

Publicly, I’ve seen that most recruitment ads discriminate based on gender. This also applies to portals, such as “HireLebanese”: see the “Gender” requirement in the job’s “General Information”section?

But this also happens when recruiting for companies. A manager in the company (whether you are recruiting as an employee or they are your client; it doesn’t matter) will come and clearly instruct the recruiter that the needed person should be a male for every subjective reason that can be possibly found like (there are thousands more..):

  • This job requires force, women do not have muscles (Haven’t they seen women in agriculture and in factories lift inhumane weights?)
  • This job requires overnight shifts, women won’t agree to it (Haven’t they seen female nurses, doctors, paramedics?)
  • This job requires lots of driving, women won’t be able to handle it (Haven’t they seen female medical representatives, outdoors people?)

But this also happens the other way around:

  • This job requires the kind of patience men do not have (Haven’t they seen men nurses?)
  • This job requires talking a lot (Haven’t they heard men telemarketers, male sales or insurance people?)
  • This job requires working with babies (Haven’t they seen male baby sitters or staff in kindergarten?)
3- Personal Status

Some companies make it clear that they are looking for “Single” people in their recruitment ads. Yet 99% of the time this question will pop up during the interview no matter what.

This discriminating factor comes with numerous sets of prejudgments that could be accompanied with another discriminating factor in a positive or negative way:

  • Why risk a maternity leave with a Married AND Female candidate?
  • Married with kids means the person has a sense of responsibility.
  • Engaged? We need to send the person on travel missions, emotional crackdowns are not manageable.
4- Religion

In a sectarian country by excellence, where recruitment goes like ” We need 4 more Maronites, 3 Sunnis, 2 Shiaas, 1 Durzi, etc” in ministries, we can expect many companies to recruit based on religion.

It’s also based on religion that some companies close on this “holiday” rather than the other while other companies decided to keep a “balance” and have equal number of holidays on both the Christian and Muslim side.

Reasons vary greatly from one company to another:

  • We deal with alcohol, we can’t have Muslims
  • We work on Sundays, we can’t have Christians
  • We can’t send a Muslim/Christian to sell our products in this region
  • We can’t employ a Sunni since our shop is located in Dahyeh

In addition, some companies expressively decide not to recruit veiled women because they do not want employees who publicly display the religion they belong to nor other Muslims who do not agree to handshake with women.

Yet, freedom of expressing religious beliefs is a constitutional right…

5- Looks

Next to companies who are known to discriminate based on looks for “business reasons” like modeling agencies, hostessing companies who ask about weight and height etc… others have decided that sending your CV with a picture is essential for other jobs.

Indoor/outdoor sales people, receptionists, executive assistants etc.. mostly get recruited based on how they look as well. In many instances, companies even overlook necessary competencies that are actually needed to perform those jobs.

6- University

It’s not a secret that some well known companies only recruit from specified universities and automatically reject applicants from others. They even mention them in their recruitment ads.

Universities themselves do that when they get applicants from schools and other universities. I know people who had the “Oh, you’re from X university? Sorry, we do not accept applicants from this university” treatment despite their 4/4 GPA.

7- Experience

One of the reasons why you might not get the job is experience and it is one of the most widely accepted on both the company and applicant side.

The frustrating thing is that when you are a fresh graduate and all companies that you apply to reply that they require a minimum of 2 years of experience in a certain field to start working with them.

In other instances, companies will overlook everything on your CV and just look for the experience that is identical to the one “required” for the job.

They usually end up with people who do their jobs perfectly but with whom no one wants to work and disregard the fact that competencies can be transferred from some jobs to others as well as the fact that skills can be learned.

8- Age

This is another widely used discriminating factor used in recruitment. Ads will specify an age range or words like young/mature. It is usually closely linked to experience as well as salary.

A lot of companies are wether looking for a “cheap” employee or a manager with “10 to 15 years of experience between 30 and 35 years old”.

9- Education

Another reason why you might not get the job is education and is similar to experience.

This usually leads to disregarding self-taught people and others who learned the job without following the common academic path yet in Lebanon we do not have a system in our universities that validates what people have learned outside their curriculum.

10- Things you own

Whether it’s a car or a motorcycle or something else, you see companies posting ads including the “must have a car” or something else.

Owning that thing becomes a pre-requisite in order to apply to certain jobs and your competencies disregarded.

11- Who you know

In a country where most businesses are family owned, if you happen to be a relative or friend you are almost guaranteed a forever job and benefits regardless of your qualifications.

Other companies will recruit based on “how many potential business contacts you know” or headhunt candidates from their competitors.

12- Physical/mental condition

Whereas a law was enacted to promote the integration of disabled people in the workforce, I rarely saw companies employing someone with a disability.

Companies use the fact that the premises are not equipped or that no person with a disability able to perform the job applied.

13- Political affiliation

When you live in a country where politics dictate the economy, it’s not a surprise to see businesses backed by political parties or even belong to them to recruit people who solely votes for them.

14- Nationality

Nationality is probably the very first discriminatory factor that separates applicants not only in Lebanon but also all around the world and is regulated differently. Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians etc have different rights when it comes to employment in Lebanon.

15- Race & Color

Lebanese people with different nationalities and apparent different race & color or married to foreigners are also subject to discrimination in recruitment.

A Lebanese woman married to a foreigner or a Lebanese person who looks more African/Russian etc because of their mother is at high risk of facing discrimination for looking different or for marrying a foreigner.

This discrimination is accompanied by a whole set of prejudgments made before even giving the person the chance of an interview.

16- Language

On one hand, if a Lebanese applicant can’t speak some of the languages spoken in Lebanon, there will be a communication issue. This is another commonly accepted discriminatory factor which is found to be more logical. But that does not erase the fact that it doesn’t exist.

Although not as serious as the others due to the fact that most of Lebanese companies adopt at least another language besides Arabic for business, whether English, French, Armenian, Russian etc… it will be hard for someone who only speaks Brazilian to find a job in Lebanon for example.

On the other hand, Language discrimination happens in Lebanon when it comes to accents and dialects. Some companies located in a city find it difficult to accept people coming from villages due to their vocabulary or the way they speak.

17- Geographic location

Companies also make recruitment decisions based on whether the person is physically located in Lebanon or several kilometers away from the workplace and make the decision on behalf of the candidates instead of asking them if they were willing to relocate or to commute.

18- Time

Applicants are also divided in the eyes of the companies based on their availability to start.

If a company is in a hurry, they may recruit the less qualified candidate to fill in a post instead of waiting for the one who has to give a two-months notice period to the company their are employed with.

It’s a commonly accepted reason why you might not get the job.

19- Sexual orientation

This one is clear. Lots of companies (depending on the industry they belong to) refuse or accept candidates based on their sexual orientation especially when they are clearly expressed.

20- Reverse discrimination

For some companies and NGOs, the way to go against discrimination is to solely recruit people from the disadvantaged groups even if there is a mismatch between the person and the required competencies to perform the job.

Conclusion

There is room to expand every single discriminatory factor that affects a recruitment decision but I think the post is already quite lengthy already and decided to illustrate each one briefly.

There are probably more discriminating factors that have made or broken a recruitment decision in Lebanon.

Other countries have already enacted anti-discriminatory laws but the hardest part for a big number of people in these countries is to actually prove that they were refused employment solely based on discrimination and make a case that would bring the company in question to justice.

I went further than the commonly known discriminatory factors including several recruitment bias to tell you that there are other factors that are overlooked but can get one excluded from being accepted for a job vacancy, all of which have nothing to do with the actual job’s requirements versus one’s competencies and even get you the less/worse treatment.

Discrimination is everywhere and no company can pretend to offer equal chances to all applicants.

Laws and business logic as well as applicants can “justify” some of the factors for practical reasons and convenience but this does not mean that they are not discriminatory or a reason why you might not get the job although you have all required competencies to perform the job.

A lot have been commonly accepted and will debate whether they are discriminatory or not based on the job requirements and the company’s culture.

Other listed factors are less and less accepted by the candidates or completely rejected by the law yet they are willingly breached every single day.

I think there should be an open dialogue between the public, companies and judiciary to clarify what is accepted and what is not. They should also set the reporting procedure when it comes to law infringement and highlight the consequences.

Do you know more?
Have you been through one or more of them?
How do you think they should be handled?
Which one do you consider normal and which others do you completely reject? Why?
Thoughts? Suggestions? Feel free to share your experience.

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3 thoughts on “Recruitment cancer in Lebanon: 20 reasons why you might not get the job

  1. Rita thank you for writing this. As someone who has been hiring for a while now, I agree completely that such practices are terrible but I’d like to offer a different perspective on the subject.
    If we frame the discussion in the context of discrimination I believe we will find ourselves where the US for instance has found itself. Though discrimination has been made illegal, recruiters continue to find loopholes and discrimination endures. Worse, forcing employers to hire based on some kind of quota actually increases their discriminatory sentiment and thus, since they are “stuck” with the people they had to hire, they will make their working lives a living hell. I remember seeing this with African Americans where I used to work in DC.
    The thing we don’t talk about enough is the benefits of diversifying the workforce and of taking a chance on someone who you do not typically “see” in a particular position; whether that is a male nurse of a Shiite in Ashrafieh.
    By the very fact that these people are different, you as a business owner benefit from unparalleled insight experience and growth to your own organization. People who are different are very often the element that shakes an organization into changing, evolving and adapting. Their perception is very different and this is something priceless.
    Furthermore, when you as a Shiite in Da7iyeh hire a Christian girl to run your organization, you are effectively placing a node in the system of networking and business. You’re bringing in new types of clients and she’s exporting your brand and all of this is happening naturally. And everyone knows business needs to adapt and diversify to grow.
    Finally, I just wanna add that sometimes discrimination is fair. I know this sounds politically incorrect but there are jobs that the MAJORITY of women would neither enjoy nor excel at. As an employer making a cost-benefit analysis, you will rationally not take a risk and simply hire whoever fits the profile best. This is how business has been run since business has existed.
    Let me know what you think, I know you have a lot of experience and insight about this topic and sorry for the long annoying comment.

  2. As a blind person, I cannot tell you how many times I have been confronted with blind discrimination whenever I tried to apply to a job in Lebanon. Though I graduated from one of the best universities in Lebanon and the Middle East, I always hit a brick wall. There was one time where I was talking to the manager on the phone and he asked me about my desired salary. As soon as I told him I was blind, he immediately said that he was sorry, that he forgot that someone else had applied and that the vacancy was filled! Yeah, right!

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