Let’s continue on our tour of mankind’s less admirable side during what may be called “Dark week” here on the JMD blog…our first in that genre ever!
In prior weeks’ posts, I have suggested I might once again dabble in the working world. A combination of factors such as finances, socialization and downright boredom could lead me back to a job (not to be confused with a career).
I have set myself on an exploratory mission regarding jobs and my desirability for said. I had heard some concerning comments from peers regarding the job market that seemed to confirm a nefarious tendency among hiring firms…ageism.
On the surface, choosing not to hire someone because they are older (as opposed to old), doesn’t seem like a terrible thing. Scratching beneath that surface yields some darker and more alarming assumptions that cloud hiring decisions.
If you’re old, you must have more medical issues. It’s just a given, right? My car gets older, it needs more repairs. As an older (over 50) person, I must be more expensive than a younger hire.
It’s a generalization, of course, but how many decisions in life and business are made on generalizations rather than exploring cases individually? It’s lazy, sure, but we’re all so busy, sometimes it’s just easier to use general beliefs to categorize specific people (otherwise known as profiling).
The older you are, the higher your salary. Very common in professional positions or longtime employees. Once the salary rises above the business-defined pay grade, there is a reluctance to hire anyone for a lower paying position. The reasonable conclusion for the hiring company is the person will be upset or pressured to work for such a lowered amount. Of course, if the offset is no employment, I think people waive their “high” salary expectations.
A person who previously worked in a much higher level job would likely be dissatisfied with a lower level job (with concurrently lower pay…see above). Hiring managers have difficulty seeing this person as simply doing “grunt work”.
Many companies want experience, but they don’t really want to pay for it. If you have a lot of experience, they become leery about the potential cost and fall back on a trite excuse called “overqualified”. It’s a silly reason. It means that even though the person is fully qualified to do a job, they are disqualified because they can also do other jobs.
Imagine, for a moment, if you’re a hiring manager in a tough labor market. The person applying for the job in your area/department/company is talented and experienced. Maybe even more than you. Do you really want to hire a potential threat to your own job?
Surely a young and hungry worker is going to have more energy and enthusiasm than a crusty old worker. Why, the older worker may not even know all the new computer programs and stuff. Resistant to change. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks. And such. Of course, it’s also possible that the older (experienced) worker has seen everything before and can actually improve or speed up the work cycle without having to be taught from scratch.
Interestingly, I fall into all the categories above. I have over a quarter century of experience in multiple arenas and levels, with my last job being an overpaid senior manager (is there any other type of senior manager?).
I can easily see how a hiring manager might well think I would only use their job as a “stepping stone” to get a “real” job more commensurate with my previous pay and level. Heck, I went through these same thoughts when I was hiring people.
Ultimately, though, I allowed myself to be guided by one particular idea: who is going to get the job done best. That’s what I really needed to keep my job, too. That meant sometimes I hired a youngster and sometimes an old fart like me.
I am fascinated to uncover the mindset of hiring managers in today’s market. I hope to get an interview or two sometime soon. After all, I’m not getting any younger!