Part of the reason for the lunch, (besides getting caught up), was for him to get my take on his place in the current employment market. As an employment professional with almost 30 years experience he’d hoped I’d have some insight.
My friend is in his early sixties and very active, but like many mature professionals he has slowly been transitioned to what would be considered by his younger self, underemployment. He really wants to keep working, mostly because he enjoys it, but admitted that a “slowdown” would not be unwelcome.
His experiences interviewing would be much as you might expect.
I have never believed in age discrimination per se, but I acknowledge that not everyone is a candidate for every job. Succession planning gets in the way. What I mean is that if a company’s succession plan leads to the corner office, an entry level candidate must be a certain age to to make it there. A fifty year old entry level candidate just won’t; but let’s put that example aside for the moment and concentrate on management positions. (The above being said, do we know anecdotally that ageism exists, I would say yes).
Every management search assignment that I was ever involved with started with “ we want to hire the best candidate available”. Can you hear the inevitable but ? What would follow would be a long list of asks, most of which would have nothing to do with the actual job description or company fit.
Smart companies, I mean really smart companies, put no limits on a recruitment that don’t directly relate to the ability to perform the job within their environment.
Years ago when I was still recruiting, I placed a retired VP of sales in a part-time merchandising position because the hiring company was smart enough to recognize the tremendous value he could bring to the role, and put no limits on recruitment. Since the former VP was only looking for something part-time it was a match made in heaven. So invaluable did the former VP make himself that when the company was sold to a large multi-national the acquiring company brought him over. Other full time employees were not so fortunate.
So what did I advise my friend to do? I suggested that he concentrate on “selling” those qualities and experiences that were age proof, and he has more than a few! You see, while I don’t believe in ageism I haven’t yet been successful in convincing the rest of the business world.
So if you’re reading this and you have ever said to yourself while interviewing “ I really wish I could hire this candidate but…” stop and consider whatever limit you’re putting on your recruitment, and that at some point you too might be on the other side of the that desk looking for work. Something to think about.