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Age Discrimination. A Hiring Practice that’s Unfair, Illegal and Stupid

Posted on September 22, 2014

I recently read an article about age discrimination among corporations that substantiated what many recruiter friends had already told me. I’m referring to the policy of some hiring managers to only interview applicants who are under the age of 45 and currently employed. This is blatant age discrimination. It not only violates federal law and is obviously unfair, it’s also incredibly shortsighted.

Let’s face it - people who are doing well at work DON’T READ JOB POSTINGS! Nor do they contact recruiters. So age discrimination and refusing to consider the unemployed limits hiring choices right off the bat.

Plus, when you hire someone away from a job they don’t necessarily want to leave, you have to make certain concessions. These include, but are not limited to, a higher salary, more benefits, additional vacation time, a preferred workspace and possibly a sign-in bonus. What else will they expect? For one thing, a better position! One that has a higher title and assignments that are at least as interesting as the job they’re leaving.

Okay. Let’s say you give your new hire everything they ask for. They’ll be happy right? Don’t bet on it. In their eyes, hearts and minds, all of these concessions are “OWED” to them. So don’t expect gratitude, let alone enthusiastic appreciation.

Now let’s suppose you’re a hiring manager who avoids age discrimination and is willing to interview qualified candidates who aren’t currently working. Let’s say you’re considering a candidate who is 55 years of age and seems over-qualified for the position they’re applying for. For the sake of this discussion, let’s imagine that he or she has had been out of work for over a year and contacted you through a mutual networking contact on LinkedIn. How might such a hire go?

First, when a contact is made through LinkedIn there are no finder fees. And if the candidate has recommendations on his or her profile, you’ll be able to gain insights about their work and personality BEFORE you even meet.

Since the candidate applied for the job, they probably have a good idea of the salary. If it’s lower than their previous one, clearly they’ve made a decision to pursue it anyway. And if your benefit package is less impressive than that of your competitors, a person in transition will appreciate what you do have, instead of complaining about what you don’t. In fact, they may see this as a golden chance to restart their career and will probably be the first one in and the last one out of the office so they can make the most of this opportunity.

Here’s another major plus. Senior candidates have the kind of wisdom you can only acquire on the job. They are more likely to help other employees and proactively find ways to be more productive. After all, experience has taught them that’s how to succeed in their career. Hiring such employees is how companies succeed too.

The reality today is that even the most educated, skilled and motivated people can find themselves among the chronically unemployed. Which means that between the after effects of the 2008 recession and age discrimination against older workers, hiring managers have an incredibly rich talent pool to draw from. The smart ones know that hiring the BEST person for the job – whatever their current employment status or age – is the surest way to stay employed themselves.



© 2014 Wendy Lalli

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