For Some Candidates, Discrimination is Subtle

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"Since Obama was elected, we don't have a diversity issue anymore," one HR consultant I know said recently. She was being sarcastic. And, indeed, a number of black professionals continue to face high hurdles as they search for work, even when they have experience with top firms and degrees from top schools.

Between January and October 2009 the disparity in joblessness between whites and blacks with college degrees was more severe than it was for those without them, writes Michael Luo in the New York Times. "Education, it seems, does not level the playing field - in fact, it appears to have made it more uneven," he says. He goes on: "The unemployment rate for black male college graduates 25 and older in 2009 has been nearly twice that of white male college graduates - 8.4 percent compared with 4.4 percent."

According to African-American job seekers who spoke with Luo, the discrimination they face is often subtle, evidenced by "surprised looks and offhand comments, interviews that fell apart almost as soon as they began, and the sudden loss of interest from companies after meetings. " One University of Chicago MBA told of an initial meeting with a money management firm: His two interviewers seemed stunned when they met him for the first time. "Their eyes kind of hit the ceiling a bit," he told Luo. "It was kind of quiet for about 45 seconds."

"Whether or not each case actually involved bias," Luo says, "the possibility has furnished an additional agonizing layer of second-guessing for many as their job searches have dragged on."

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