Ageism in Hiring Executives

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Ageism in Hiring Executives

As we ponder a 65-year-old contender for the Commander in Chief, it is striking that there are many situations in which a post-50 year old contender for an executive position is considered “too old.”

You may be asking – where does she get her data on ageism as a hiring trend?

I don’t have any “data on this”, except my experience placing executives.  And the whispered comments of hiring managers who say that they would like someone who has a “handle on new technology” or “a person with less experience.”   One head of a start up was bold enough to tell me that he wanted to hire a person younger than him (he was 30 years old!) so he would not have to “prove” his own stature as a manager.  Others have told me that they don’t want someone set in their ways (as though some 25 year olds are not set in their ways).

No one will out and out say that they will not consider a person because they are “too old,” as it is not legal. But from the comments I’ve heard (and dependent on the industry), one may be too old at 40 (technology), 45 (entertainment), 50 (digital/publishing), 55 (manufacturing) and, of course, at 60 (all other industries).

The sad fact is that, while we want “wisdom” in our President, we don’t want to manage it, hire it or pay for it in our businesses.

Now, I am not talking about the 50 plus year old who doesn’t know social media or can’t use a computer, as I don’t work with incompetent executives.  This ageism is being inflicted on the competent, capable, tech adept 50 plus year olds who can’t find a job because they will be older than the hiring manager.

So, I have a radical thought.  Rather than teaching managers how to deal with GenX/Y – let’s teach young managers how to deal with Baby Boomers.   Here are the key points for such a “class.”

Baby Boomers may be smart (just like Gen Xers) and they may be had for the same salary as Gen Xers (because they still want to eat and pay a mortgage).   You may find a Boomer or two who works harder than a much younger person because they love what they do… or because they want to prove that they “still have it.”  Baby Boomers may not be as aggressive as Gen Xers or as “driven to be at the top,” as they have often decided that they don’t need to be in charge.  (That is what age and wisdom bring – a real insight into one’s capabilities!)

Baby Boomers may be good mentors, stable workers and bring real value to the work place.  And they will “play nice” because they know how to play and they know how losing feels.

So, let’s start a movement.  You’ve heard about the “war for talent”?  Stop fighting the war for talent and start hiring the talented 50 plus executive.

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