Although I understand how and why it happens, it is not in my nature to make assumptions, jump to conclusions or surmise. My analytical bent prevents me from forming critical decisions or taking action without adequate evaluation of tangible evidence or factual data.
That proclivity has served me well in countless complex and sensitive work situations involving nebulous factors that could produce assorted outcomes. It's tough for me to process the concept of anything but investigating or considering alternatives or consequences. And, I often find it challenging to observe others overlook the importance of doing so.
I happened upon a post in one of the HR LinkedIn discussions that caught my attention. The original poster posted the following question and comments:
Is there a way in which I can show age discrimination in hiring?
I have been trying to obtain a training position for three years now. I have applied to many jobs and show on my cover letter how I fit the required aspects for which the company is asking. I have yet to obtain an interview.
My graduation from undergraduate school is 1976. I have 20 years of teaching experience and 10 years as a trainer (independent consultant); however, I am passed over every time to receive a letter that states the company has found someone that fits the position better.
What should I do?
Here's the opinion I offered:
Name - Unless I missed it, the information you shared in your post does not specifically indicate why you suspect there is some form of age discrimination occurring. Not that it isn't ever a possibility, but the vast majority of employers appreciate the value of a diverse workforce and truly do wish to attract and retain the most talented and capable individuals to advance their business goals.
Perhaps, you are in fact abundantly qualified for the roles you apply for, but other applicants (regardless of date of birth) are submitting more convincing career marketing materials. The fact that you have not been invited to ANY interviews suggests a high probability that prospective employers are not recognizing a relevant fit with their screening criteria based on the information you are providing or maybe what you are not including.
No matter how well most people perform their jobs, they don't tend to be equipped to fully understand the particular nuances and subtleties that comprise an effective professional self-marketing campaign applicable for their own unique circumstances and career objectives. Thus the continual contrast between employers claiming they are not able to find suitable candidates and applicants who believe they are perfectly suited being rejected.
Let's consider hypothetically, that by some random coincidence, every employer you applied to does in fact have discriminatory hiring practices. I would be curious how they are able to identify any demographic traits - such as your age - simply by reviewing your resume and/or cover letter. If you are directly or inadvertently revealing "hints" of that aspect of yourself, then it should be simple enough to neutralize that from being a factor in your messages.
Bottom line: resumes, cover letters, online profiles, business bios and any other career oriented written content must be customized for the target audience and tailored for the desired position. The above items will only be skimmed/scanned for mere seconds before landing in the "yes" or "no" pile. It is essential to be extremely objective and evaluate how to maximize that limited opportunity to create the right first impression.
What's your take on this topic?