It's certainly not the first time these topics have been written about, but what do you think of this author's stand on HR being to blame for all that is wrong with corporate America? Especially because according to this article, collectively HR is incompetent, rude and most of all prejudiced against people 55+ (I'm guessing recruiters and recruiting is included in this "HR" context too).

Here's a snippet: 

The number of long-term unemployed workers aged 55 and older has more than doubled since the recession began in late 2007, and getting back to work is increasingly difficult, according to a recent government report.

I am sick to death watching these fabulous business minds struggle upstream for months as they apply for positions with organizations that should be thrilled to have them knocking on their door. Instead they are often greeted with disrespect, disregard and an inconceivable superior attitude from the twenty-something year old HR rep that they are forced to filter through.  

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You know... Nothing makes me ponder my place in Corporate America more than a bitchy, insulting rant. Yawn.

I look at a few things:

1. There might be considerations - good or bad - that the company has to take into account. For instance, some benefit costs are higher the higher an employers workforce's average age is. 

2. If a company doesn't need as seasoned an employee, then why do we think they should hire the more senior person? Even if they are willing to take less money, it is hard to say it is always a good idea to hire someone who is overqualified.

3. A lot if the people who complain know that companies won't hire them, even at reduced salaries, were not crying during the years they were the ones making the demands and setting terms. And many showed little of the compassion they want from employers now.

I have no disagreement with the fact that it probably is harder to find employment the older you get. Added to the fact that it's not a wide open market for most people, it's even harder. I have said and still feel that the majority of us have faced a time that we were not chosen for a position, or maybe didn't get a sale, due to factors that aren't "fair" - gender, race, age, etc., but the ones who keep clear heads and working well will make it.

Good grief. Someone put some ice in this lady's hot coffee when she wrote this. She needs to read Mark Millers I know Ageism occurs and it is very unfortunate and a true shame. I think to put all of HR and Recruiters in one bucket is a bit extreme though. There may be some bad HR professionals in our field, but there are great ones also. This could be said for any field. Too many generalities. Thanks for finding Kelly. Will

When you drill into it, often you find that it's not a case of Ageism, but a case of skills that were out of date when they were first laid off, and a lack of enthusiasm to develop current skills over the year(s) since. Sometimes it's a matter of inflexibility. I have had a few candidates recently get demanding with me about roles for which there are barely qualified, but which could have worked, if they were willing to take on certain demands such as travel, relocation, salary levels or training. Yet, when they were unwilling, they could not see that they had ranked themselves outside the range of prospective fit for the role. The same rules apply to those who have three decades of experience as those who have none: you must become the best fit for the role, no one is handing anything out today.

I re-read it just for kicks - here's my favorite line

"And lastly, as in life, be thoughtfully aware that rudeness is not an attribute."

Although it sure helps drive blog traffic eh? Obviously works for this "expert".

That article was beyond obnoxious in so many ways. 

Here's the thing: while I'm sure it does happen, I know of many other (fully legal) biases that are far more likely than ageism to be involved with most candidate selection processes. Does that make it any better, NO. But, this writer (and many like her) seems oddly convinced that anytime they or someone else of a particular age is not interviewed or hired it automatically must be due to their age. Absurd! 

I'd like to ask all of you to think about the time(s) you had the ideal candidate fall into your lap or you scoured the planet to dig them out of obscurity AND then either you, a fellow recruiter/HR person, hiring manager or final executive-level decision maker decided to pass on that individual due to him/her being perceived as too old. 

If you have examples like that, but would rather not post that info publicly, please feel free to contact me privately. I'm wondering if the article writer or her friends would be able to produce any such evidence to support those claims. 

Thanks for the comments so far! 

~KB @TalentTalks 

Kelly I'm not afraid to say I cannot think of a SINGLE INSTANCE in which that has happened. In the past (not at my current company, but some years ago) I've had candidates rejected for being too junior or lacking "business maturity" but I honestly cannot think of an instance where someone was passed on for simply being "old".

To Ian's point, when I was a career counselor in the unemployment system, I often ran into candidates who didn't get far in the process because of their inflexibility / unwillingness to adapt, take less money, learn new skills, all of the above.

Thanks, Amy! Same here.

Never personally witnessed anyone, anywhere using "old" as a reason to not consider a candidate. I've heard some doozies about all sorts of other issues from various colleagues though.

IMHO "too junior" or "under/over-qualified doesn't necessarily correlate to age either. 

I remember being told I was over-qualified for certain positions I interviewed for in my 20s. And, I'm pretty sure I've been considered under-qualified or too little experience for numerous roles since then, even after plenty more b-days in between.

Likewise, I always find it amusing that people assume age has something to do with salary (or other costs of employment). In most cases, the position, level, internal equity and salary budget determines pay grade, not the age of the person filling the role. 

Agree, usually the people that complain the loudest about all of these injustices in the hiring process are the most likely to be behind their own troubles. Whether the problems you listed or the way they present themselves on paper, online or in person, there are far more ways to be excluded than when you were born or how long you've been working. 

The only legitimate gripe I can think of and defend as a valid complaint is how unemployed people are (and have always been) considered less desirable. Sadly, that lingering prejudice has become more visible to the general public in recent years. That bias spans all age ranges of workers. 

I have only one specific example. I was a branch sales manager, and my district manager used the exact words "I don't want to hire someone that old". Now, this is the same manager who wanted me to tell him "You're the man" every time he approved an office supply purchase. The same manager who found a way to let each of his female managers know what his favorite sexual act was, etc. AND the same manager who eventually became the Division Human Resource Manager. So, basically anything he said or did was obviously part of a much bigger issue in that company!

Amber - that's just awful. There's some real slime-balls out there. And, it sucks even more when they happen to be HR "leaders". Thanks for sharing your example. 

the only one i have ever had that anybody equated not hiring due to age was the old gal who advised the hiring manager that she only wanted to work three more years and just needed benefits until she could qualify for medicare and social security.  Then she threw a fit because she was sure it was her age.  I suggested to her that people don't normally want to hire anybody who announces in the interview when they plan to leave.

It has been my experience that most of the women who gripe about being too old to get a job look like hell, dress like hell and have the attitude of a cactus about their age.  Had one who did ok in the interview then sent a thank you note that started out "Dear EEOC Employer"

Well Margaret, that may not have been the smartest thing to do.  Why not just say, "if you dont' hire me i will sue you", and get the small talk out of the way. 


Nice to see you, Sandra! RBC needs more of your contributions. Your comments always enhance the discussions. 

Completely agree about the way some of these people look, dress and act and the stupid stuff they say. Sheesh! And, they have zero interest in taking accountability for the impression they make. Nope let's just sue somebody! 

For sure, I've seen and heard examples of people with prickly personalities and atrocious appearances make assumptions about ageism being the <OBVIOUS>>> reason they don't get very far. 

There's no way it could be:

  • that snarly expression on their face
  • that gigantic chip on their shoulder
  • that entitled, know-it-all attitude of "do you know who/what I am" at my level? 
  • that condescending "back in my day" or "when I was your age" or "a young whipper-snapper like you probably doesn't remember when..." or with my maturity as a seasoned professional with 39 years of experience I can get this place in ship shape in no time" interview statements 
  • that hideous perfume/cologne that chokes out all the oxygen from the room
  • that distracting nose hair, ear hair, chest hair poking out everywhere
  • that too tight, too short, too lowcut, too much camel toe, VPL, too many lumps/bumps, TMI outfit they've decided to wear
  • that stench of cigarette smoke, moth balls, bad breath or BO detected from 20 feet away
  • that months' worth of Dolly Parton make-up on thier mug and can full of aqua-net in their hair-do
  • that pair of eyeglasses they've worn since 1982 not because they've suddenly become a hipster

Thanks again for adding your examples! 

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