Older? Do You Have Modern Amenities?
By Lisa Parker
Time to talk specifically to older candidates again. I’m still hearing complaints about companies not wanting to hire older workers. It’s hard to put a number on what age qualifies a person to be “old.” I’ve heard it from 40 and beyond.
Is age discrimination really about your age? Age could very well be the true issue in some instances. I saw true age discrimination most often when smaller companies were fretting over how to reduce benefit costs. Smaller firms top heavy with older partners struggle with the temptation to hire a younger candidate to keep premiums from becoming prohibitive. Can you blame them? Of course, it’s not legal to go that route. Let’s be honest and admit they’d be stupid not to give it some thought. They have a business to run. Businesses live and die based on the ability to reduce expenses.
The example above aside, age discrimination, in my experience, is rarely about the number of years the person has spent on the planet. More significant than actual age is how equipped the candidate is with modern amenities. Modern amenities are what make the sale happen. Too often older candidates haven’t updated what they have to offer. Just like older homes are less likely to sell if they haven’t been outfitted with cable and air conditioning, older candidates who aren’t strong on the computer and staying on top of current trends will soon find themselves undesirable. It makes sense. It’s not about being unfair. If employers have options that won’t require upgrading or doing without, they will take them. The only thing likely to sway them is if the option lacking in amenities comes at a low enough price to make it worth while. As tacky as it sounds, if your skills are out of date you are a fixer-upper and can’t command top market price.
Many of the individuals I meet who are in this situation dig in their heels. They are quick to talk about age discrimination, but slow to accept what they could do to change their circumstances. There are more resources than ever available to people interested in upgrading their skills. When I talk to them about social media, Excel, PowerPoint and the like, they wave their hands at me. “I shouldn’t have to learn that at this point in my life,” is a common response. Really? Why ever not? If you truly wish to continue working, where is the logic in not learning the modern way of doing things?
It really is a tricky situation. I know it’s frustrating. Keep in mind we all have similar criteria when it comes to buying things. We want modern amenities. I don’t see older candidates driving cars without radios and power steering. Are they discriminating against 40+ year old cars? No. Age isn’t the true factor. We all expect those who want our business to provide the comforts of today. Be fair to employers and realize they share the same expectations.
Lisa joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Career & Business Services on May 1, 2012. Her primary focus is to develop effective networking and resource channels for experienced alumni interested in professional development and job search strategy assistance. Additionally, Lisa works directly with corporate, education, foundation and government partners seeking to attract qualified talent, retain and develop good employees, and establish collaborative relationships in line with their established goals and objectives.
With 15+ years’ experience in third party recruiting, Lisa offers a balanced understanding of both employee and employer perspectives.
Lisa is a firm advocate of the networking process and considers it a vital element in a successful job search. In addition to helping job seekers develop and best utilize networking contacts, Lisa shares her knowledge and insight-gained aiding corporate recruiting efforts-to give Spartan job seekers an edge in terms of lead sourcing, resume presentation and interview strategy.
Among Lisa’s notable accomplishments: Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar; Michigan Works Association Volunteer of the Year; Pink Slip Mid Michigan Planning Committee; RecruiterUncensored.com career content blogger.