“I’m 52, With White Hair…But I’m Not DEAD!”

As a recruiter, I just have a few questions to ask for the sake of those who, like me, are beyond 50 years old. These questions are meant for serious debate, instead of an attempt to conjure argument:

  1. Why do employers shy away from people over 50 years old?
  2. What inappropriate questions have you faced, with the age issue, during a face-to-face interview?
  3. What phrases have you heard used to avoid hiring you (considering you are completely qualified for the position)?

I stand 6’8” tall and have the tendency to attract positive (sometimes fun) attention no matter where I go (and yes, my hair is white). Not so fun with the following case:

Once during a job interview, I heard some comments that were blatantly illegal and if I didn’t let the interviewer know I knew they were illegal, they would have continued to trample all over me.

The interview ended quicker than they were prepared for, because I wouldn’t stand for that sort of questioning and I made it clear that I was not happy with them. Needless to say, I wouldn’t get the job and suggested that I would not consider ANY offer they WON’T be making based on their tactics. I also made it clear to the other 7 people out in the waiting room (yes, they all had white/gray hair) that this company’s deliberate disregard for experienced professionals may cause them some courtroom time! Six of them got up and walked out with me.

Let’s face it…a 20 year old may be able to handle a physical job better than one of us old coots, but what about our experience? What about our common sense? What about our dedication or our maturity?

Where do YOU draw the line, especially when you NEED a job? What do you think?

Steven Coyne is the owner of "The Job Hunter Group's Blog."

Views: 80

Comment by Todd Kmiec on April 1, 2010 at 12:15pm

First off, you get to play center on the company basketball team. Hope you have a decent hook shot. We've talked and e-mailed enough, but I had no idea you had the physicality to play in the middle. Tough subject. I'll throw some gas on the fire. Take the law out of it for a minute. Salary cost, satisfaction at the lower salary level for the long haul, trainability, fit into the structure of the business currently.....these are the things that clients are thinking. When we have a staff level position and a 30 year verteren says the salary is fine and he can do the job etc...... the client with a PM (would be this candidate's supervisor) who has 12 years of experience and is in his mid to late 30's just can't see it working out long term. If you turn it around and look at it from the client's point of view, they are building and filling slots for their team, their business, and the laws are just a big headache for them to dance around. That's not to say that a more seasoned person doesn't fit somewhere. There is a right place for everyone. However, when working with an outside agency they have to pay, clients want the ideal. In some cases that is more experience and in many cases it is less. It is harder to find that early to mid level candidate moving up in most industries. I think we'd be a lot better off without the laws. As you said, in that case you weren't going to get the job anyway. The excuse will just be manufactured. For candidates, the attitude has to be similar to ours. This is a game of finding, not creating. They won't force a client who wants a 32 year old to hire a 55 year old. Better to spend the time and energy working to find the client who wants a 55 year old. I think it would be a lot better if the laws were gone and they could put the age they are looking for on the job description. "Looking for someone in their mid to late 30's that will mesch well with the current team". Or "Ideally someone in their mid to late 30s to fit our culture, but a more experienced candidate with a lot of energy and the right experience could be a fit". Would be a lot more efficient for everyone.

Todd Kmiec


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