An App Taught me a Recruiting Lesson...

Have you played Peak? It’s a brain game you can download on iTunes orGoogle Play. It’s an app that is supposed to help you track and train cognitive skills. Why not? Playing the addictive games that helped train the old noodle couldn’t hurt.

After a couple of days of occasional play, I didn’t feel like my memory, focus, language, mental agility or problem solving was getting sharper (which the app claims to do). But I did get a marketing email from them with this interesting tidbit:

“ Until recently, it was believed that our brains stopped developing once we reached adulthood. In the last 10 years, research has shown that throughout our lives, no matter how old we are, our brains are capable of creating new pathways and strengthening existing ones. This is called neuroplasticity.”

No Matter How Old We Are

What stuck out to me was “No matter how old we are…” I immediately thought of a former co-worker of mine Tony Lewis who wrote a great four piece blog Navigating a New Role as an Over 50 Professional. My thoughts played rapid fire screenshots from every hiring manager that hemmed and hawed over a perfectly viable candidate within compensation range and no real reason to decline them with the exception of “culture fit.” Let’s address the elephant(s) in the room.

If you ‘re a millennial (I honestly think these ridiculous generational groupings are crap), you get poked in the ribs because of stereotypes. The general public thinks you don’t care about anything but your snaps, IG likes, essential oils, or your entitled opinions. That can’t be farther from the truth; people are people no matter what the age. But honestly, your (or our generation depending on the study) generation is the butt of a few jokes and you(we) don’t have to elbow our way to the employment table provided you (we) have a few marketable skills.

Our friends in the Generation X and Baby Boomer that are either laid off or looking for a change have a lot more predetermined bias to overcome. Let me ask you a few questions:

  • What length of time should you be in a individual contributor role before you move into management?
  • How long should a person be in a management role before moving onto a director or higher role?
  • How long does it take for a person to professionally plateau by not “moving up?”
  • How old is too old?

Hidden Bias

If you had an answer to any of those questions with a number, it can be considered hidden bias. Don’t believe me? Listen to this guy Shankar Vedantam. Blind a few resumes and pepper in a GenX or Baby Boomer and deliver them to your hiring manager. You might be surprised at the response. Ageism is real but, I hope/don’t think it’s done maliciously.

Recruiting professionals pride themselves on reading people, finding that elusive rainbow colored squirrels, and working towards a solution. If you’re a recruiting professional, let’s talk about a couple reasons we can coach our hiring teams to broaden their views about candidates.

50% Less Successful

Baby Boomers and GenX population is 50% of the workforce is the United States. What person would negate half of their chances for hiring quality talent for their organizations?

The Skills Gap

Baby Boomers and GenX population can bridge the skills gap you workforce will undoubtedly navigate. Business acumen, soft skills, legacy software/programs that are industry specific, etc. If you are in the trades or manufacturing this should really hit home with your hiring teams.

It’s the Law

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA’s protections apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments and training. — See more

Do Your Job

As recruiting professionals, it’s up to us to help our hiring teams make the best choices for the most inclusive work force possible. Have these conversations and be proud. Be the consultant to your business because we all grow up and grow old. Don’t let awesome talent become irrelevant because of hidden bias. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is a load of crap.

Rant over.

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