Recruitment can be a crazy business. We are at the whim of our candidates and our hiring managers, some days it feels like I am a babysitter more than recruitment professional. Over the past few years I have noticed a disturbing trend, one that may have been present for some time but I am noticing it more and more.
Hiring Manager and Recruiters are focusing more on fit, which is great – except they are “fitting” those over 50 out of work. I have worked at a few companies that have a product that is geared towards youth and early – mid career professionals. So as a result, they feel their culture is also “youthful”. They are not stating they will not hire anyone over a certain age; instead they are capping it terms of years of experience. In one example, I was working on hiring a Sales Manager. In our discussion the VP stated that he wanted 5 – 10 years of experience. Anything over 10, he wouldn’t consider. And not 10 years as a Sales Manager, 10 years in their career. Essentially, anyone over 35 need not apply and he was very clear that this was the case but he couldn’t say that without being discriminatory. I tried to work around this by presenting someone with 10 year’s of experience in sales and 8 years outside of sales and he sent back the candidate immediately with a too much experience decline.
Another trend I have seen with recruiters is the inability to see that not everyone is looking to move forward in their careers for their entire lives. Over time, the climb up the ladder is no longer the priority but they still want to use their skills and experience. So someone may have been a director at one stage is looking to be an individual contributor at another. These applicants don’t even garner a call; they are relegated to the decline pile without another thought as the role is “too junior”. This again tends to target the over 50 crowd who are looking to adjust their work/life balance.
I understand that many organizations are thinking that they need all the eager youthful overtime that the early to mid-career level workers can contribute, but these folks are also more apt to leave the organization after a couple of years and take their skills and overtime to another organization. Over 50 workers are more likely to be loyal, be productive quicker and maintain that productivity over time. So why are we shutting them out? Why are they consistently on the losing side of the job? Many of these workers are technically adept, have not left the workforce voluntarily but rather have been laid off, and are eager to work.
If you feel I am exaggerating, recent studies in the UK show that people over age 55 are out of work 2x as long as someone in their 30’s. And this trend is continuing to grow. Studies in the US and Canada are showing very similar trends. In itself, this could prove to be more catastrophic to society as these adults become dependent on their children very early on as they lose their homes and savings for retirement attempting to find work again.
We need to work at retraining our recruitment colleagues and our Hiring Managers to consider a multitude of factors when making hiring decisions. We all know age discrimination is illegal, but for many, they don’t even realize that is what they are doing. Let’s tackle this issue before it does reach the edge of the precipice.