Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Insights and Responses to my Ageism Issue

2009-03-09 12:23:26
Shortcut URL: http://t.conquent.com/9A00

Ageism

I disseminated my recent views on ageism in recruiting/HR far and wide, and the response was, to say the least, overwhelming and quite interesting. So, I have posted the various comments (anonymously) here for persual. I sent the posts with requests for input to HR/Recruiting groups in WA, OR, and CA as well as a women in technology listserv I am on. All in all, about 5,000 people saw this posting. This is by no means a *scientific* or even measurable study; it is simply a compilation by members of communities I am involved in.

Responses are in no particular order unless they are part of multiple-response thread.



Original Post (by me):

I've seen a very disturbing trend the last few weeks in my network. People over 40 being "laid off" and the RIF being attributed to "financial reasons", and recruiters focusing on the younger workforce pool.

Has anyone else seen this?



Responses:

I've noticed this trend for over 10 years.



"Seems" to be the trend. I'd be very curious to see the other responses you receive on this.


Simple economics...some companies choose to lay off more experienced (and hence more costly) employees to make room for less experienced, cheaper labor...other companies, like British Petroleum for example, have been selectively rolling out 10% pay cuts for some of their divisions.


Yes, my husband was laid off last year. A decrease in sales performance was the reason given, but it is known that he was one of the higher paid managers (with 30 years of industry experience). Within the same month, several other "seasoned" managers were also laid off. He had to take a 20% pay cut with his next job because it is an employer's market. Employers can drive the compensation down setting a new industry standard. This is the time to stay put if possible. If not, expect to take a pay cut!


Yes it is hard to find a c ompany that will hire those of us who are of an "advanced age'. And age discrimination is the most difficult to prove. However, even though it may be hard to prove it is not impossible. And I feel that we basically have two choices, accept defeat and just keep applying anywhere and everywhere or we can file a complaint with the EEOC. You don't have to try and prove it alone. In addition to EEOC if the company holds a federal contract you might be able to file a complaint with OFCCP.



If you think you have been wronged then you owe it to not just yourself but to all of those who are in a similar circumstance. The economy sucks big time. More and more people are losing their jobs. But if a business or company gets enough complaints against them sooner or later someone is going to take notice and start looking at them under a microscope for the way they are going about hiring and firing people.



I know it isn't much, but it is better than saying "Oh Well".



Just thoughts


Yes, my company and myself are a prime example of this. Out of a group of 12 employees 6 of us are over 50, 3 over 40 and 3 in their late 30's most of us long term employees and therefore at a higher salary rate.


I would agree that not many companies seem to be hiring over 40. I have been recieving many resumes in the past few months and many seem to be people in that age range. One thing that could turn off hiring managers is looking at apps of the over 40 group and seeing large wages and thinking that these individuals may not take job offers or may not be very motivated to work hard if their compensation is much lower than what it had been in the past. I know I have felt that way looking through resumes when the job we have is advertised at $13.00 per hour and their past wage was $25/ hr.


I wonder if it's just a short term trend you observed. There was an interesting article in the Feb 9th print edition of Business Week regarding called "In this recession, older workers are keeping their jobs" focusing on how workers over 55 are the ones who tend to be kept on during all the downsizing we are seeing. You might be able to find the article on their web-site.


I have always thought that it would be interesting to do a survey of over 40's and over 50's who either can not find employment or who have just given up looking because they have looked for so long. It also might be interesting to find out how many have found a job and for what salaries. And what is the difference between the age ranges. It sure would help the more senior professionals get a handle on their chances. I sure wish I would have know ahead of time what an up hill battle I was going to face.


I was recently laid off and I have the data sheet used by the company showing ages of those “released” and those retained. There is a clear case of a skew in favor of the younger group and my attorney is pursuing this to gain a more favorable severance package.


Kristin, yes, not only this. I have also seen the HR recruiting folks getting younger and younger and sadly, they havent a clue what value a more mature worker will bring to the table. We are just "older workers with higher salaries, potential medical liabilites and ideas "stuck in the past" (all not true- well, maybe the higher salary part, but, it's because of all we bring) sad times!




Here in the silicon valley ageism is keenly applied to those over fifty. It could begin earlier as well. I filed two complaints with the EEOC and got nowhere. Nobody seems to care!

So well intentioned as I am, I would consider following the trail of your "hollywood"
bank robber. But I lacked the nerve!




Monday mornings I attend a (Seattle area) Worksource networking event. The meeting has grown from about 15 - 20 people to easily double that if not more and not one of the people attending is under 30 (well maybe a couple).




First of all, I am 64 yrs old and have more then 37 yers of experience in HR, IR and Recruiting. I agree that all too often people over 40 use "discrimination" as a crutch to help themselves justify their inability to find employment.

I would love to hire "seasoned workers" but all to often I find those over 40 are stuck in thinking the processes? learned 25 yrs ago are still the best . They often make it plain that they still like the "old" way better. They have resisted change and in doing so are no longer able to communiate effectively with younger individuals.

My advice to all over 40 is to "get with the program" The world of HR is rapidly changiing every day - new legislation-new behaviorial theories, new ways to find candidates etc.

If you have fallen behind the times It is your responsibility to get caught up, Learn , learn. learn. Do not fear change. Listen to some RAP music, talk to today's youth( they really are amazing)., get a new hair style, buy a pair of red shoes :)

Accept new ideas and processes, embrace change and you may find that you will outlast younger employees in tight times or if you have lost your job you will be considered as a great candidate as you have kept current , you don't think old, and you have a great attitude.


If you think OVER 40 is bad...wait til you get OVER 50 (or more). As a Career Consultant during the post 911 layoff crises I worked with alot of laid off workers and it is pretty clear discrimination is rampant. I have also heard comments by some HR folks that are troubling in this regard. One internal recruiter told me she would never send any "gray haired' guy to certain managers because she knew they wouldn't be hired. From a strategic point of view I can understand her position---she is busy and why waste her time as well as that of the manager or the candidate. But from an ethical and legal position it is indeed disturbing. Of course, I don't mean to imply all recruiters operate in this way, but I think it happens more than we care to believe.

I think the field of HR has an opportunity and responsibility to be a real leader in regard to age discrimination--as well as other forms of discrimination (gender, race, ethnicity, etc.). There is an opportunity to educate managers about the value of "experienced" workers as well as, of course, the potential liabilities associated with discrimination. I know many HR folks who are quite vigilant, outspoken and real champions for this cause.....but there are others who take the easy way out, by avoiding confrontation and pretending not to see.

Of course, age discrimination also occurs on the other end with the 20 somethings being turned down for jobs they are competent to serve, especially if they are "young looking".

Discrimination will end when we truly hire, fire, develop and promote for purely performance-based reasons. I think we are still a ways away from that reality.




I am more concerned about layoffs than hiring, to be honest. And for anyone, it is imperative that they understand that they will most likely need to take a pay cut.





Yes it is hard to find a c ompany that will hire those of us who are of an "advanced age'. And age discrimination is the most difficult to prove. However, even though it may be hard to prove it is not impossible. And I feel that we basically have two choices, accept defeat and just keep applying anywhere and everywhere or we can file a complaint with the EEOC. You don't have to try and prove it alone. In addition to EEOC if the company holds a federal contract you might be able to file a complaint with OFCCP.

If you think you have been wronged then you owe it to not just yourself but to all of those who are in a similar circumstance. The economy sucks big time. More and more people are losing their jobs. But if a business or company gets enough complaints against them sooner or later someone is going to take notice and start looking at them under a microscope for the way they are going about hiring and firing people.

I know it isn't much, but it is better than saying "Oh Well".




Due to the economic woes, it is an employer's market. For those of us that are looking for work, you might be over 40 however if during the interview you are skill sets are not strong then yes someone younger will earn the right to be offered the job. I was a member of a interview panel on Thursday Three people were interviewed. The first interviewer was over 40 did a good job in presenting her skills. She was used to earning a higher salary however understood that she may have to take a pay cut.
The second interviewer was over 40 seemed inflexible, did not do a good in presenting herself. She was willing to work for less. The third interviewer was under 40 did a good job presenting her skills and was flexible. When asked about salary she was willing to accept whatever the company offered. The first and third person will have second interviews next week.

I understand that some individuals over 40 should earn more money and in a fair world, you will be properly compensated but while companies are struggling financially companies have had to make tough decisions which have included, laying people off, pay cuts, early retirements, cutting hours, only filling essential positions and hiring people earning less money. Only
you know your situation, it is not about age but if you demand to make a certain amount of money and are not willing to understand that the company may not be able to pay you what you believe you are worth, there are hundreds of other individual, ready, willing and able to work for less.

I help individuals over the age of 18 find employment and old or young when you want to make so much money you will find yourself still unemployed. Companies, the government and individuals have had to make adjustments to their income, we must do so as well in order to survive.

Times have changed and we must change as well. Also you may have years of experience however if you interviewing skills are not sharp you will not stand out amongst the crowd. When interviewing, it is a package deal.




I recently conducted two workshops on job search strategies, resume development and networking at and 95% of the attendees were over 40.

Reply:

I sometimes wonder if it is the 40+ age group of candidats who go to these types of resume buiding workshops because they understand the value and it has been quite a while since they have looked at their resumes or have interviewed.

Let's face it, if I was fresh out of college and laid off, my resume is still very current and I've been interviewing most recently. The younger population also has typically less financial burdens and my live off of unemployment just a
bit longer than someone who's supporting a 25 yr. mortgage with college kids and admissions fees. More food for thought...




A little note of caution. One thing I have seen repeatedly during a downturn is employees over 40 crying about age discrimination. These same folks when under 40 were the first out and last back in the previous downturn. I just see too many people use it first as an excuse and then as a crutch and ultimately rationalizing that they can't get a job solely
because they are over 40 and act accordingly.

If you are over 40 and command more money to do a job that someone under 40 can do just as well and for less, what do you think might happen??? If your years of experience are not worth the extra money, they aren't worth the extra money, and that's just economics.

As far as complaining, the HR community in certain areas is a VERY, very close community. You start screaming age discrimination, even if it's true, and the other possible employers will back away from you very quickly.

But, gang, there are companies out there who will hire you. They are not that hard to identify. The HR rep is over 25. She does not look at those over 40 as elderly and tired. Smaller companies that don't or can't afford to spend tons on training look at you as a bargain or even a steal. Take what you have and shop it in an area where others don't. And for those companies that do discriminate against you and do it openly, remember it. Remember who in the company. Learn a tiny bit about them. Watch them in the future. But write it down, don't waste time thinking about it. You never can tell when the fates will give you a little tiny opportunity to return the favor to the company or even better the person. And most of the time it will.




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The Disturbing Trend of Ageism in the Work Place


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