Being a Curmudgeon Has its Benefits August 1, 2016Posted by Peter Varhol in Technology and Culture, Uncategorized.
I occasionally wax personal in my blog, as I did a year ago when I was facing a serious cancer diagnosis (the diagnosis was ultimately incorrect, and I am healthier than ever). Occasionally I just have to say something about a particular moment, whether or not it relates to my target blog topics.
This morning I got a regular email newsletter from Marc Cendella of The Ladders, a job search service for salaries over $100K. The title was “When the kid interviewing you says you’re too old…” In it, Cendella says that age discrimination in hiring is prevalent, and offers the older job seeker a checklist of items to attempt to overcome that bias.
Here is where I call a foul. Certainly there are things that a job seeker can do in order to make him- or her self appear to be a better fit for a given job. In general, those things range from the common-sensical (be engaged and current in your profession and energetic in your life pursuits) to the absurd (facelifts and hair coloring).
But it’s a two-way street. Why not also suggest to the hiring managers that they might have a bias that is not well serving their organization, and how they might recognize and correct that deficiency?
Oh, that’s right. Businesses like The Ladders make money from those companies doing the hiring, not from job seekers. The Ladders would rather tell the job seeker to change, rather than the hiring manager.
I would imagine that in a lengthy career spanning a dozen or more jobs and dozens of interviews, I have experienced some types of bias and discrimination. Probably everyone has; we tend to form initial impressions of someone we just met in under a second, and those first impressions can be both unconscious and difficult to overcome.
Bias in hiring is particularly difficult to demonstrate, as there could be any reason or no reason to not be selected for a job. The prospective employer certainly isn’t telling (usually), so most of this left to speculation or inference, and not even worth considering, let alone actionable.
But I found this newsletter from The Ladders to be singularly offensive. I instinctively interpreted it as “It’s not my problem that I am biased, it’s yours in that you are too old.” I deeply resent that Cendella says that it’s a problem for job-seekers, rather than a problem for hiring managers (or for both). If hiring managers let such biases creep into their decision process, they are doing both themselves and their organization a serious disservice.
I have always been sanguine about bias in hiring. My attitude has been that if I am discounted because of a personal characteristic outside of my control, it’s a place I probably wouldn’t want to work at anyway.
The fact of the matter is that unless we die young, or hit the jackpot, we are all destined to become older workers. Everyone, deal with it.