THE ULTIMATE BLOG ON ALL THINGS HR
& THEN SOME
& THEN SOME
My friend and I were recently discussing her job search. She started to pick my brain as an HR professional. We are both “over the hill” now and she asked if age discrimination occurs. I assured her it does not. But then I began wondering. Does it? I’ve been a job seeker. Do employers reject candidates based on the age they think a candidate is?
I remember as a kid thinking how awful it must be to turn 50. All the black balloons and black decorations and gag jokes. Luckily for me, I don’t look my age. Conversely, that doesn’t always work in my favor. Employers may think I’m too young to fill the shoes of a director-level position. Or, if they suss out my age, perhaps they believe me unable to develop fresh ideas or burn the midnight oil.
[For the record employers, burning the midnight oil is no longer a thing. Work-life balance is. Employee engagement is. So is candidate experience. Get with the program—it’s 2022.]
So I ask again, does ageism occur?
Should you include on your resume or job application the dates of education or list work experience so far in the past it ages you? What about jobs whose skills included software that is outdated, perhaps even no longer used?
It depends. If you have continued learning comparable software in the same field, yes. If you’d rather leave off the dates, do it. If you think it’s unnecessary to list outdated software, don’t include it. If prior employment doesn’t relate to your current job search, delete it.
Some employers may be impressed with your commitment to learn software programs over the years. Some may revere you for having been alive when such programs existed. [They may just be my hope. Any Aldus Pagemaker fans here?]
The job market today is bananas. Things have truly been turned on their head and I’m not sure if it’s the job market, the industry, a little of both, or none of the above. The thought my friend fears her age is keeping her from getting interviews angers and saddens me. This is a jobseeker’s paradise right now.
As a candidate, your best bet is to go with what boosts your confidence. Put your best foot forward and own your experience. That’s what makes you the unique jobseeker you are. What you bring to the table is incomparable.
I choose to believe employers are ethical, honorable, and are considering the qualifications, temperament, personality, and skills set of a candidate. Age is just a number. Some 20 somethings are far more mature than individuals in their 50s. If an employer is obsessed with a number, they’re not the company for you.
Have you ever applied to a job—even interviewed—only to never hear from the employer again? Have you been offered a job but quietly slinked away without responding, like Homer Simpson disappearing into the bush? Do you ignore calls from potential employers?
Ghosting is a phenomenon that has expanded its reference from romantic relationships and friendships. It is now a part of a job seeker’s misery and a recruiter’s nightmare. Is it a generational issue? Has Covid-19 affected our manners? Do people in general just not care? Or are they too chicken to man up and decline the job or reject a candidate?
For the past five months I have been working as a contract recruiter. Most of the positions are frontline, super essential, and require no experience. But guess what? They have been some of the hardest to fill. I have been wracking my brain for out-of-the-box methods to recruit. I just attended a speed interviewing event hosted by the State. I’ve driven around local communities, popping into local businesses to ask if I can post or leave a flyer about our jobs or hiring event. I have even emailed churches! Why? Folks aren’t answering their phones or returning phone calls. THey're not showing up to our hiring events. Or they don’t want to work the overnight shift. And sometimes they prefer to have a life and not work 12-hour shifts. I get it.
But for those who are too lazy to pick up the phone or return a call, I’d love to know why. I mean, it took time to fill out our short application. Obviously searching out jobs, 85% of our candidates indicate they found us on Indeed. So is it to meet the weekly quota to collect unemployment? Let me be honest here: this is what us recruiters believe. “Nobody wants to work. Everybody wants to stay home and watch streaming TV. This person isn’t remotely qualified for the job.”
On the flip side, jobseekers are receiving zero feedback from employers—not even a canned “Thanks for applying” email. If a candidate took the time to submit their information to our company for an open position, you’d better believe I’m going to take the time to review their information. Does not matter if they meet the skills set or not. Besides, you never know what gold you may find. It may be work experience paralleling that hard-to-fill maintenance position.
Here’s the fun part for all recruiters and hiring managers: Candidate A looks superb on paper but interviews horribly while Candidate B looks terrible on paper but interviews like a rockstar. This is why I don’t always reject Candidate B or assume Candidate A fits the bill. I will reach out and screen candidates who just might be the best hire in the history of recruiting.
So when I phone screen a candidate, I am upfront about important aspects of work, like overtime and the varying temperatures in the work environment. Why wouldn’t I be? Honesty is always the best policy. And it’s not like they’re not going to find out once they start working. I believe wholeheartedly in the candidate experience. It sets the tone for enjoyment in their employment.
In this job market, attraction and retention are key. I started believing a couple years ago that the candidate experience begins before they even apply. They have to be sold on a position AND the company to spend time creating a profile in the applicant tracking system and uploading their resume. With the dizzying amount of bonuses being offered today, candidates are comparing compensation and boning up on benefits. They are savvy, asking tough questions, as they should be. They aren’t just taking the first offer they receive.
So in my recruitment experience, what clinches the deal seems to be the initial phone conversation (followed by consistent communication during the hiring process). This conversation is when I let my light shine as a recruiter. I bust out my authentic self and engage, engage, engage. I don’t just power through the same standard questions with monotonic flatness. I infuse my personality and my curiosity kicks in, because I want to “see” if their personality joins in and whether they ask questions. If they are engaged also, I know am building a connection with them. And that bodes well.
But, lately it’s been nightmarish. Sometimes a candidate is gung-ho, they accept the job, and fill out the background check profile with lightning speed. Then we wait, and wait, and wait…only to find out they’ve robbed a bank within the past seven years. Or maybe they’ve tested positive for crack cocaine. And I think to yourself, “Well, I didn’t see THAT coming. It was going so well.”
Because one of my five strengths is achiever AND I have been my authentic self, I take it personally when a candidate ghosts me. Or, if after a week they still have not accepted the offer, I call and they don’t answer or return my call. I am crushed. I am crushed because I have expended energy and invested myself in them becoming our newest employee. The ones that hurt the most are the ones who enthusiastically told me they were excited to come onboard, only to be ghosted by them.
When the shoe is on the other foot and you have interviewed multiple candidates, reach out to those not selected and let them know why. Be honest. It may be what catapults them into a successful interview with the next company. And guess what? They may be more likely to recommend your company to a friend or family member.
Let’s take a page from Casper’s book and be kind to one another. Jobseekers, answer those phone calls and decline those job offers. Recruiters, give some respect to jobseekers and tell them if they’re not a good fit. Even if it’s through a panned, “Thanks, but no, thanks” email. Leaving a person hanging just isn’t right. Don’t ghost. Instead, own up and move on to the next candidate or company.
Creator: That makes me sound all powerful. I suppose I am in many ways. Hi! My name's Amy and I've been practicing HR for twelve years now. No big deal. I am here to offer fresh perspective on HR topics and topics about the world we live in and life in general.