… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

Not from around here

Orlando is an interesting city. It feels very fluid to me, ironically enough, as it is as center and land locked as much as anything in Florida could possibly be. But it feels like people are always on the move. Tourists, conference attendees, or even as a pit stop on the way to another part of Florida; people flow in and out of the area constantly. And what about those living here? I have met a total of two, yes TWO, people who were born and raised in Orlando. Everyone else is a transplant.

So when it’s time to review resumes, it is more normal to see people with out-of-state, or even out-of-country, employment histories than local. It’s crazy. I have never lived somewhere with so few “natives”.

But that is far from the norm for a lot of towns and I think that makes relocating to look for work or better opportunities that much harder. When I was just starting out in HR, I had a manager warn me to be careful if I saw a candidate from out of state, or one that seemed to have moved around frequently. Surely they had to have a reason for moving so much, right? What exactly are they trying to get away from?

And don’t think geographical biases aren’t at work too. Some towns can be very insular and “you aren’t from around here” kind of thinking isn’t uncommon, even if you are moving within the same state. And what about accents? Yes, you DO have an accent, and yes, people WILL notice it. Especially if you move from one end of the country to another. Trust me on this one.

Now, as HR professionals it is our job to make sure the hiring process is as fair and unbiased as possible. But we would be lying to ourselves if we didn’t acknowledge the stupid, undefinable “gut reactions” some hiring managers can have when deciding on candidates. It’s frustrating. And we would really be putting the blinders on if we didn’t acknowledge that we have those kind of biases too, like that previous boss of mine.

So I want you to repeat after me, “I am a normal human being with biases and I will do my best to look past my preconceptions so that I can see the actual person.” Also, “Cause I’m good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me.” Well, maybe not that last one. But you get the point. Because simply being aware of and admitting to own our mental laziness (as I like to think of biases and stereotypes) is enough to combat it.

And to you job seekers out there looking to relocate, don’t let this scare you. The times they are a-changing and business are starting to catch up. Moving to find better opportunities is only going to become more common, and there are lots of ways you can integrate yourself into your new community such as networking events or even volunteering.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Just don’t be surprised if you never earn the title of “native”. Hell, I lived in Minnesota for 18 years and there are still people who wouldn’t call me “native”, dontcha know.

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