Is it discriminatory to request that we screen out smokers when hiring a new employee for our client or is it just a workplace right that other non-smokers should have in their place of work? Knowing the dangers of smoking and second hand smoke, could it even be considered as a Workplace Health and Safety issue and your duty of care to not bring that into a workplace?
Ask a smoker if it would be discriminatory to not hire them based on the fact that they smoked and the answer would be YES!
Ask a non-smoker if they felt that a smoker could pose a potential health risk or do they just hate the smell around them and the answer will most likely also be YES!
Ask a customer of that company and it could be a mixed result, however, if the customer is a non-smoker, it could influence their decision to deal with the salesperson or receptionist, resulting in lost sales that you will never be aware of.
Whilst I have a personal preference that I will keep to myself, the nature of this blog is to help you if you are a smoker and looking for your next opportunity.
The smoke free workplace
A lot of companies that we know have already moved or are moving to a ‘smoke free’ environment and look for people that fit that prospect. They are also introducing ‘no smoking in company uniform’ policies as it could be considered a detriment to their brand and also affect their staff and workplace. There is also a Government link dedicated to this initiative to incorporate into the workplace. It’s not necessarily the issue about people taking smoke breaks throughout the day, it’s actually about the person returning to the office after their smoke wreaking of cigarettes that actually disrupts their colleagues. Potentially, if you are in customer facing roles, it may even turn off the customers themselves. Employers don’t want to disrupt their staff and even more so, don’t want to turn off someone that is paying them money. Whilst we are not going to delve into the legalities of all of this, the bottom line is that if you are a smoker and your dream company or role pops up and the company doesn’t want that as part of their environment, you need to be aware of this and change something about you to help you win and retain the job.
Self – Awareness
If you wake up at 6am and have a smoke and your interview is at 9am, it is potentially still on your breath, on your clothes or on your person – this is just a fact and if picked up, may ruin your chance of getting a great job. You may have nailed the interview and stand-by to await the call that never comes. Only to call and get some lame feedback that they went with someone that ‘had more’ experience’ or that ‘it was such a tough decision but we went with another candidate’. The real reason will never be known however being in our unique position as a recruiter behind the scenes, we often know what went wrong. Quite often we get feedback from employers that a candidate attended an interview and did well however they had a smoke sometime beforehand (and sometimes just before) going into their interview. “we had to air the office out’ and ‘the place just smelled afterwards’ are real words of feedback that we have received from our clients. To non-smokers (especially if it’s the hiring manager) it can be a massive turn-off so we always come back to the old saying of ‘first impressions count’. What a lot of smokers may not realise is that a lot of non-smokers are really sensitive to the smell of cigarettes – their radar pops up immediately. Not many people have the guts to tell you, so you need to understand this to improve your potential of being hired.
What can you do about it?
From a non-smoker’s perspective, the short answer of course is not to smoke but the reality is that you have a personal choice to do it or not – this isn’t our call. My personal advice is that if you have an interview lined up, do some research about the company and even do a drive or walk by during their lunch or morning tea times to see if there are staff having a smoke outside – this may sound silly but is it not worth investing your future on it? The big one though is holding off having a smoke before your interview and doing your best to secure the role first – it could easily be the difference between winning the job and not. If you win it, go in your first day with the intention of not smoking and see what occurs throughout the day. If it is accepted throughout the day, then it’s all good, if not, you may have to work around it and adjust when and where you do smoke. You put a lot of effort into winning the role, the best you can do for yourself and your family is to retain it by adjusting what you do.
We wish you all the best and if you would like to discuss this further, we are always open to having a chat about improving your chances at interview and working towards a great career. You can call our office on 1300 558 979 to talk further.