all the time. And it not only kills me because I'm in that age demographic, but because people think I have the ability to help them get jobs, but in fact I am pretty much powerless.
I even have friends who have been out of work for a couple of YEARS now. My heart aches when I hear the horror stories about people losing their homes, having to pull their kids out of college, depleting their entire savings, just to survive until they get a job. And there are suicides too.
Going back to school or taking classes? Forget it. It’s a waste of a job seeker's money 95% of the time. Employers just do not consider 'adult education classes' or even a later-in-life degree to be worth much if anything; they'll just keep ignoring those workers they 'assume' aren't a good fit and hire the people who have the experience/knowledge from their employment.
And companies just don’t want to bother to train people anymore. The mantra is ‘hire ‘em with actual experience so we don’t have to spend time training ‘em!’ These days companies who are watching their bottom line (and who isn’t) want to hire people with at least some experience so they can be immediately productive.
Many over 50 job seekers have given up on finding anything even remotely comparable to what they had before being laid off, but therein lies another problem: They can't even get hired at Starbucks or Home Depot! Many of these people will do ANY work – they’re smart, capable, nowhere near ‘over the hill’, and often desperate if not for income then for health insurance. People who NEED money often turn out to be the best employees.
However, those companies assume anyone who is that over-qualified will bolt at the first offer in their field that comes their way. This may - or may NOT - be true, but I just hate all the assumptions and preconceived notions people have about certain age groups (hell, while we're at it, I also hate ALL assumptions about any group of people). No one is judged on their individual merit or circumstances. Why not?
Time and workload. No one in an HR or recruiting function, nor the hiring manager him/herself, has the time to do a thorough review of every applicant.
So what's the answer?
Well, I highly doubt we will change American society and our sociological beliefs. Just look at history… how long did it take Women to gain a foothold in employment? And then African-Americans and other people considered ‘non-white.’ And today, the focus seems to be on Gay rights and acceptance, and that battle is still ongoing.
Face it, we humans are imperfect; we are not computers. Even the best, most well-meaning people may harbor preconceived notions or outright bias against certain groups, and some do without even realizing it. People will stick to what they 'think' they know (like employers 'think' they know to never hire someone at a lesser pay or title than they held before), because it's easy. It's easy to lump an entire group of people together so they can be rejected. Makes the person whose job it is to review all the resumes much easier!
I'm a firm believer that the hiring process in our country is broken. It has become a matter of rejection - how many people can the reviewer (could be an HR Manager, or a Recruiter, or an entry level admin or even a temp worker!) remove from the pile?
That pile of resumes must be made smaller, of course, because no one has the time to read 500 resumes and cover letters for each position in their company. So employers first look for a reason to reject the person... you know, those age-old reasons that humans use to classify others:
There are typos on the resume.
The resume ‘looks’ bad.
- The person’s English is a bit stilted or broken (possibly indicating someone whose first language is not English).
The name of the candidate is ‘ethnic’ sounding. (studies have proved that ‘Colin’ will get hired more often than ‘Tyrone’, and that ‘Jason’ will get preference over ‘Abdul’).
The person lives too far from the company (‘far’ being a very subjective term; 10 miles might be far to you, but many, many people in the U.S. drive more than 50 miles each way)
- The person lives in a ‘bad’ area or neighborhood.
- And, of course, the person graduated from school more than 15 years ago or shows employment dates on their resume from more than 15 years ago.
If it IS a machine (computer) doing the first ‘review’, there is no guarantee the computer will reject the people truly not qualified, nor is there a guarantee the computer will keep the best candidates. The whole subject of keywords and rankings based on keywords is fodder for another debate!
Lastly, they look at the actual experience and qualifications of the person. Yes, I said last.
Those candidates who aren’t immediately rejected, move on to the next step in the rejection process, so that another imperfect human reviews and rejects, and by the time the actual hiring manager sees resumes, from that 500 he/she might only see 10.
Do you for one minute think that every one of the 490 rejected candidates were rejected solely because they do not have the minimum qualifications?
Now let this sink in for a minute… someone who has never met you, someone who could be racist, ageist, homophobic, someone who might be an entry-level employee without much breadth of business experience, someone who most likely has no understanding of what you do and how that fits into their company, could be the person who determines your future.
(dismounting my soapbox now)…