Finding Work at 60: A Tale of Talent Lost

Upper middle-management and out of a job.

Too qualified,

Too set in your ways

Not right for the job

Too old fashion for our hip new company

And too many other things you aren’t allowed to say.

How many really talented people are out there looking (and looking) for work who can’t find a job because the 30 (or 40) something that is in charge of hiring has a pre-conceived notion that the person they are looking for is “younger.” How many automated resume screening tools see someone who was highly successful for 30 years as not qualified for the new product manager position that just opened up? 

I am closing in on that generation. I know a lot of people who are there (guess when you’ve been around a long time, a lot of the people you know seem to have aged on you). My brother is 59 and just got laid off from a career of 25 years as a successful disc jockey. Seems they don’t need disc jockeys much anymore and really don’t need old ones. He’s applied to sell cars, drive trucks, work at most anything that a 20-something might apply for. Nothing, Nada, No reply.

I just got off the phone this morning with an old (sorry for the use of that word) friend of mine who was a very successful business man. Built a company from scratch and made himself, and a lot of other people, a pile of money when he sold it. He doesn’t need a lot of money now, but he wants the stimulation of work. For 4 years now: Nothing, Nada, No reply.

Seems to me that we have a lot of talent out there that current hiring (and recruiting) processes don’t know how to deal with. The Great Recession put a lot of talent on the street, but the great boom in new business processes leaves them out of the picture.

That’s a shame: A generation lost.

Read more an AnHRInnovator

Views: 334

Comment by Jeff Dahlberg on April 18, 2013 at 11:11am


What I am about to say is not a rant or mean spirited, but will hopefully get the next generation or recruiters  to break a cycle of” follow the leader”:

When I was in grade school we were given a story to read about a culture that took their old out in the wilderness and left them to die once they were seen as unable to contribute. As the man was pulling his father on a sled his son asked him why they were taking his grandfather out in the woods. His father told him that this grandfather was too old. On their way back the man's young son asked if they should have brought back the sled the old man was sitting on. When the father asked why the young child asked, "aren’t we going to need it when you get old?" To that the man returned to the woods to get the sled, and his father.

If I were to ask you which generation was the first “Me generation” what would your answer be?

If I asked which generation was the first since WW2 to erode our morals, what would you answer?

If I inquired which generation was the first to put their old out to pastor first who do think most would assign that award?

 Along that same line of thinking, what do you think the unintended cause and effect would be?

How do we get a whole generation of recruiters to break bad habits which have been passed down from the previous generation. Bad examples that dictates someone who currently has a job is somehow better qualified than the applicant who is unemployed. The rules made by a nameless person that had us asking ten stupid questions to get a reaction or that allows a human resource manager to select a person’s personality or worse selects looks, politics, personal relationship or some other non-qualifying factor over best qualified.

These are bad recruiting practices which have been handed down from previous generations. So long as no one brings attention to it no one cares to change the status quo. You are the old man being drug out to the snow baron wilderness and like your generation no seems to care because it is what they saw your generation ignore when you had your chance.

I believe there are good recruiter out there that have experienced or just plain see this as unethical recruiting and would love to change it. These are the practices that are usually started by someone with a higher degree or job title with a well-known organization as to automatically cause others to give credibility where it should not have been given.  It is then perpetuated as truth and all along filling the pockets of those so called experts and those funding their initial efforts, while dumbing down the human resource society. In many cases it is the employers’ officers looking to increase their bottom line. This is accomplished by telling HR not to hire older people to keep down insurance rates, having the lay off engineers and other high-tech employees so they can hire for H1-B’s at half the pay and knowing they will not make waves or file suite with DOL, OFCCP or other protection agencies out of fear of being deported.

The only way for this to change is for those who see it is unethical to stand up and do something about it. It did not take place in your generation and your generation passed along a lot of immoral and very selfish habits which have become part of the culture.

Maybe  you can start by tell us what you did to make it different when  you got older? Did you still have the sled or did you leave it in the wilderness? I'm not really asking you that question but hopefully getting others to think for themself.

Comment by Jerry D. Thurber on April 18, 2013 at 11:39am

Wow Jeff. Great imagery. And good question too. If we could live backward and understand what it means to be old, talented and left out, we'd be better at our jobs when we are young, confident and cock-sure of ourselves. We'd make sure we went back for the sled. 

Comment by Ken Forrester on April 23, 2013 at 12:03pm

Certainly a thought provoking post and a great reply-it definitely gives you something to think about. 

As I thought about this, I was reminded when I was 25 years old I took a co-worker out to lunch to celebrate his 50th birthday.  During the lunch I asked a simply question that he said he had not thought about.  The question was: what is the biggest change he has noticed when he was 25 compared to age 50?  He said the one thing he notice the most is that he spends more time looking in the rear view mirror.  I asked was it because there are more careless drivers on the road today?

He said:" I now realize that there are less people older than I am and a lot more younger people…if they out number you –you won’t beat them.  And if you can’t beat them-you might as well join them". 

There are two types of 60-an old 60 and a young 60.  The young 60 can still convince an employer that that he can step right into his job and without any training can hit the ground running from day one.  He can boost morale, drive revenue and make the team better and the employer successful. 

Comment by Jerry D. Thurber on April 23, 2013 at 1:49pm

Ken - great thoughts. I agree about the old vs. young 60 year old. And generally I (somewhat) trust most HR professionals to see that differences. I do wonder if the automated systems we increasingly rely on will see it though. 


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