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  #1  
Old 06-21-2008, 10:53 PM
scrambledeggs scrambledeggs is offline
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Why do employers seemingly not want to hire middle-aged and older people?

I seem to constantly hear that once you turn 40, employers don't want to hire you.

I've gotten advice that you should start your own business, or enter your own profession (accounting, etc), so that you don't have to get 'hired' again, if you lose your job later in life.

Today in the NY Times, a 50 year old former executive is waiting tables:

"agencies are “not hiring middle-aged people, especially with his qualifications, when they’re not sure what’s going to happen next.”"

So my question is WHY is there such a negative response from employers for those applying over 40?

I would have thought that:

--The average manager is middle aged himself and would respect other people who are near his age.

--Older people have more experience

--Because of the baby boom, there may be more people in their 40's than their 20's (at least who are educated) ??

--Most jobs are 'at-will' in the United States, so employers can easily hire a 40 year old and fire them if they want in 15 years

--Most jobs have 401k's and not pensions

--While older employees may use more health insurance benefits and sick days, it's really a minor thing to consider when hiring, and the hiring manager probably wouldn't care

So while I understand that a high ranking person who is 50 or more would have a hard time getting a similar job in a bad economy, as evidenced in the article above, it seems that the 'discrimination' against the over 40 types is more than should be logical.

???
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  #2  
Old 06-21-2008, 10:58 PM
BACI BACI is offline
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I've absolutely had to deal with this myself when I've been on the job market and it's unbelievable when it happens to you.

My take is there is a perception that if you hire an older person, they're more likely to be set in their ways, more likely to challenge you about what you're doing, and more likely not to want to crawl over broken glass to further their career.

As a form of discrimination it's galling, but largely hidden. What a waste of great resources. Should change over time as population ages and there are fewer young people to fill roles. Of course, that may be wishful thinking...
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  #3  
Old 06-21-2008, 11:00 PM
scrambledeggs scrambledeggs is offline
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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/ny...in&oref=slogin

Oops meant to say 'employers' in the title
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  #4  
Old 06-21-2008, 11:46 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrambledeggs
Oops meant to say 'employers' in the title
Fixed.

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  #5  
Old 06-21-2008, 11:50 PM
lobotomyboy63 lobotomyboy63 is offline
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I assumed it was because

1) They'd have to pay you more for your years of experience,
2) They'd get less years out of you before retirement, and
3) Their group health insurance rates would go up because the average employee age would increase.
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  #6  
Old 06-21-2008, 11:52 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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It might also be that older people have more baggage - jobs left, etc. Younger people might also be seen as more ambitious. If you start at a staff job at 40, you're unlikely to be bucking to be CEO some day.

In high tech jobs, there is the perception (and perhaps the reality) that by 40 or older you've fallen behind. That's true to a certain extent. Lots of stuff younger people learned in school, when there is time, I've had to teach myself, and several technologies I helped to invent are now widespread and very over specialized.

I didn't have a lot of problems getting new jobs over 40, but I don't doubt the problem.
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Old 06-22-2008, 12:07 AM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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I'm 62, and I was in my late 40s at the time of my last job interview. I pointed out to the person:

1. I've already made all my mistakes, and learned from them. A younger person still has all his mistakes ahead of him.

2. I have no intention of clawing my way up the corporate ladder; been there, done that. An aggressive younger person will always be trying to take your job away.

3. A young person making mortgage and car payments will always be hitting you up for more pay. My house and car are paid for.

4. I have more skills than you'll ever need me to use.

I didn't get the job.
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  #8  
Old 06-22-2008, 12:18 AM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is online now
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Two issues:

1) As you get older, you'll keep advancing up the ladder to the point at which you're not good enough to fill a position that high, at which point you're fired/laid off.
2) As you get older, your salary will continue to rise regardless of how high you have risen in the ladder.

So, anyone who is "old" and fired/laid off, is by easy logic, someone who was overpaid for work that he wasn't good enough to hold. You're better to promote someone internally to the position who looks promising, or to hire someone young who at least isn't known to be incapable of the job and who will accept less money. Even if the guy was willing to take a job of a level one rank down from the one he left, there's still the issue of pay. Even if he accepts a lower payscale--like what someone younger would accept--there's a good chance that he'll be dissatisfied for having had to take the pay cut.

Essentially the issue is a Survival of the Fittest thing. The triangle of a business hierarchy shrinks faster than the population expands. So for any time you want to hire in at the base from the fresh new young population, you have to bump everyone currently holding those positions up one rank in the business hierarchy (and everyone above them, up one, and so on.)

Now say you've got each manager managing 5 people, you're taking on a new group of younguns every ten years, and the rate of population growth is +1% per year.

In the first year, our hierarchy will look like:

1
5
25
125
625

I.e. there's one guy at the top rank, 5 at the next, and so on until there's 625 fresh hires out of school. In ten years time, we'll need to fill in a new group of fresh hires from school and we'll take as many as we can to meet the expansion of the populace. This year there was 625, so adding 1% cumulatively over ten years gives us 690 people that we can accept fresh from school. Splitting that out to have a maximum of a 1 to 5 ratio at each level, we are looking for a hierarchy like:

1
2
6
28
138
690

So out of 625 people we had working in the lowest position, we have to dump 487 people to fill the 138 needed positions up the next level. That gives more than ample choice to find the best of the best without needing to look outside. Or if we do look outside, we want someone who was chosen as being worth keeping. If they were just promoted, that's juiciest even.

At the bottom of the ladder, everyone is cheap enough and expendable enough that you can somewhat trust that they were laid off for reasons that had little to do with capability, or that they'll learn from the experience. As you go up the ladder, you really don't want to play around any. You only want people who weren't fired/laid off. You want to promote from within or steal from another company.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 06-22-2008 at 12:22 AM..
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  #9  
Old 06-22-2008, 12:18 AM
lobotomyboy63 lobotomyboy63 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panache45
I'm 62, and I was in my late 40s at the time of my last job interview. I pointed out to the person:

1. I've already made all my mistakes, and learned from them. A younger person still has all his mistakes ahead of him.

2. I have no intention of clawing my way up the corporate ladder; been there, done that. An aggressive younger person will always be trying to take your job away.

3. A young person making mortgage and car payments will always be hitting you up for more pay. My house and car are paid for.

4. I have more skills than you'll ever need me to use.

I didn't get the job.
Sounds like a good approach. Too bad it didn't work, though maybe you ended up in a better place?
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  #10  
Old 06-22-2008, 12:44 AM
The Shroud The Shroud is offline
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My employers (in TV production) are desperate to make a good hire (I was the last one, heh heh).

In my short tenure here, I've noticed that whenever we hire someone over 35, the resume is padded and he talks more than he listens. We're not particularly picky about hiring, but it really does seem that the older folks have trouble going with the flow and learning new tricks, and don't last more than a few months. Honestly, I'm frustrated as hell picking up slack for dudes I should be revering.

So the reticence to hire older people might come directly from people like me, who are perfectly well-seasoned (I'm 30), but are wary of working with folks who have had a lot of jobs and are still straddling between self-employment and low-level staff positions.
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  #11  
Old 06-22-2008, 12:59 AM
Nonsuch Nonsuch is offline
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As a 36-year-old who likely won't be at my current job forever, I do get nervous about this. I may need to develop entrepreneurial skills after all ...
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  #12  
Old 06-22-2008, 09:50 AM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lobotomyboy63
Sounds like a good approach. Too bad it didn't work, though maybe you ended up in a better place?
Yes, self-employed.
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  #13  
Old 06-22-2008, 09:55 AM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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Originally Posted by The Shroud
. . . perfectly well-seasoned (I'm 30) . . .
You have no idea how funny this is. Reminds me of a long-ago coworker who was fond of saying, "Hey, I've paid my dues." She was 19.
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  #14  
Old 06-22-2008, 10:00 AM
lobotomyboy63 lobotomyboy63 is offline
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Originally Posted by panache45
Yes, self-employed.
Great, apparently THAT interview went even better.
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  #15  
Old 06-22-2008, 10:04 AM
3acresandatruck 3acresandatruck is offline
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They already have a large supply of middle-aged and older employees that they're desperately trying to get rid of. Why would they go out and hire more?
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  #16  
Old 06-22-2008, 10:09 AM
R. P. McMurphy R. P. McMurphy is offline
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The laws on discrimination have protections for people over 40 which can make it very difficult to fire a person over 40. Of course, the reaction of businesses was to have an unwritten policy of not hiring people over 40 so the law itself resulted in discrimination.

Anecdotal. I worked in a company that had several suits against it for age discrimination. the head of personnel was constantly fending off the litigation. He was a real dickhead. When a new President was hired, the dickhead got fired (and he deserved it). So what did he do, he turned around and sued the company for age discrimination.
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  #17  
Old 06-22-2008, 10:33 AM
Manda JO Manda JO is online now
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I would refine this a little bit to say that employers often avoid hiring people over 40+ in an open-market competitive placement situation. But many, many jobs are not filled that way: post 40, most job changes seem to come about as a result of being recruited or networking: post 40, you are more likely to have a specialized skill set and/or a network of people that you have worked for/with in the past. My mom and dad have both changed jobs many times since they were 40, but almost never have they responded to an ad or sent in a letter/resume (or if they did, it was as a formality, well into negotiations).
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Old 06-22-2008, 10:56 AM
633squadron 633squadron is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrambledeggs
I seem to constantly hear that once you turn 40, employers don't want to hire you.

So while I understand that a high ranking person who is 50 or more would have a hard time getting a similar job in a bad economy, as evidenced in the article above, it seems that the 'discrimination' against the over 40 types is more than should be logical.
It's not logical, and despite what people say in other responses to this thread, I see nothing that supports it.

This thread ought to be in Opinions, though. I haven't seen any studies that really judge the productivity of "older" employees.

One thing may be true: "executives" looking for jobs may have a harder time. I myself have a prejudice against hiring a manager from the outside. A company has (or ought to have) a particular culture, and the best way to maintain it is to make managers from the inside. If the company is well-run and doesn't promote people just to reward them, this probably works.

This is why I am much in favor of "dual-track" career paths at companies. If you want to manage, fine. But if you don't, the company can still promote you to higher positions with greater rewards and responsibilities as an individual contributor.

That's the path I want. I have no interest in management by title. I help my manager informally. I still have saleable skills that I can bring to a new job if I need to go somewhere else.
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Old 06-22-2008, 11:16 AM
Chimera Chimera is offline
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Originally Posted by BACI
My take is there is a perception that if you hire an older person, they're more likely to be set in their ways, more likely to challenge you about what you're doing, and more likely not to want to crawl over broken glass to further their career.
This.

And some of the "aging skills", and some of the "don't listen as much" and "aren't as willing to learn new things".

Perception wise, that is.

I think some of it is that companies hire inexperienced young women for their HR departments and some of these young things are terribly frightened by older, more confident men. I know I got some of that vibe from the mid-20's woman I interviewed with last week. I mentioned something about having been working for nearly 30 years (I'm turning 46 this week) and it kinda spooked her, perhaps because that's longer than she's been alive.

Some of these people seem to expect potential job seekers to come in like the pitiful poor of the past ("Please sir, may I have another job?"), and are a bit less than comfortable when people who've been through it all fifty times over are anything less than bowing and scraping on the floor for their approval. They're looking for someone they can bully, someone who will mindlessly do as their told (there's a reason the army wants 18 year olds...). Not necessarily someone who will pause for thought and point out that their cunning plan hasn't worked at several other places over the last 30 years.

Or like this one. I mentioned my Four Fouls Rule. If you order me to do something that is Illegal, Unethical, Dangerous or Stupid, I'm not doing it. I don't think she could make up her mind whether or not that was a good thing. (It was in the context of me saying that I'm happy to do things that aren't my job if the client asks me to do, but I have a rule about it.)
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  #20  
Old 06-22-2008, 12:25 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 633squadron
This thread ought to be in Opinions, though. I haven't seen any studies that really judge the productivity of "older" employees.
Agreed. Since it doesn't look at this stage that specific factual information on the question is going to be forthcoming, I'm going to move this to IMHO.

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  #21  
Old 06-22-2008, 12:35 PM
AimeeB AimeeB is offline
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I was in a position to hire, a couple years ago, a receptionist/assistant for a small, swanky architectural firm. Most of the applicants were chipper 20-something or 30-something wannabe actresses or singers, but there were a couple of women in their 40s and 50s who applied. They had been doing receptionist work for about 20 years and were probably very competent at many of the tasks, but the position was also very computer-oriented and we had doubts as to whether they would be able to handle things like mail merges, complicated printing layouts. Another consideration was that this person was going to be representing the firm, which made marketing pains to be modern and stylish.

That being said, when I was looking for a job, I was insecure that someone older and with more experience was going to knock me out of the running. Just because you're young doesn't automatically give you an in, and often it's assumed that you're not willing to pay your dues because you've got some generational entitlement built in. Wasn't there a thread on here a while back about how certain posters are loathe to hire people in their 20s because of their sense of entitlement?

My point is that everyone has pros and cons based on their ages. It's not an easy thing to find the right position or get hired no matter where you are on the ladder.
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Old 06-22-2008, 01:25 PM
Lamar Mundane Lamar Mundane is offline
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It all depends on the organization you're looking to get into and the job you previously held. If you come from a middle management position in a huge organization, say GE or IBM, your skills probably in institutional management - you know who to go to and how to get things done in your organization. Those skills aren't very useful or transferrable in the job market. Being the under-assistant deputy in charge of the company picnic isn't going to get you anywhere. These people are often well-paid and "respectable" and they are the ones who you read about in the papers.

The majority of jobs are not like this. The best kind of jobs to have are the ones that require industry knowledge, and the more narrow the industry the better. I work for a company in a niche market that requires tech savvy and I'm in my forties, and I could get another job tomorrow if I wanted. It's not that I'm a superstar or anything, but in this field (and millions like it), experience trumps almost everything else and I've been doing this for 15 years. It helps that I'm paid by my productivity, so I don't require a large salary, but still in this industry a veteran with industry knowledge and experience trumps a young go-getter every time.
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  #23  
Old 06-22-2008, 02:42 PM
Freddy the Pig Freddy the Pig is offline
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Originally Posted by Lamar Mundane
The best kind of jobs to have are the ones that require industry knowledge, and the more narrow the industry the better.
Not always--sometimes an entire industry will tank. It happened to the telecom industry in 2001, and I paid the price.

I had to start over as an insurance actuary, which has been a good thing for a person my age because no one would care if I was 80 as long as I can pass the stinking exams.
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  #24  
Old 06-22-2008, 02:56 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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There are a couple of reasons, many of which have already been mentioned.

First of all, I believe the primary reason is that a company is structured like a pyramid. As you go higher and higher up the pyramid, the jobs require more and more experience, however there are less and less of them. A lot of firms need lots of new young analysts, associates and consultants each year because they grind through them.

So the main problem (and we've seen this when I was hiring at my last firm) is that you have someone coming in with 15-20 years of experience, they are basically the equivalent of a senior manager. Except that if they are interviewing for a staff level position, they are woefully overqualified. And if you are in your 40s+ and NOT interviewing for a senior level or management position, it begs the question as to what is wrong with your career that you aren't already at that level?

Of course if you are looking to join a relatively young, hip industry like media, technology and so on, there is also a lot of age bias and questions as to whether you will fit in with their culture.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamar Mundane
It all depends on the organization you're looking to get into and the job you previously held. If you come from a middle management position in a huge organization, say GE or IBM, your skills probably in institutional management - you know who to go to and how to get things done in your organization. Those skills aren't very useful or transferrable in the job market. Being the under-assistant deputy in charge of the company picnic isn't going to get you anywhere. These people are often well-paid and "respectable" and they are the ones who you read about in the papers.

The majority of jobs are not like this. The best kind of jobs to have are the ones that require industry knowledge, and the more narrow the industry the better.
I'm sorry, but you don't know what you are talking about. Nobody works at IBM or GE as "undersecretary of the company picnic" or whatever. They work in specific departments like sales, marketing, accounting and so on. They also work in specific industries, of which those companies are the leaders. My dad, for example, spent his entire career working for GE selling and marketing large industrial systems. He's in his 60s and retired but is now involved in a friends start-up as the marketing guy which he wouldn't be able to do without a) having his big-company sales experience b) having the street cred from working at GE and c) having made the conections through his work with GE in the first place.

Being technology expert for a niche company in a niche market is not always where you want to be. If the niche changes suddenly or goes away, you could find yourself 40+ years old with no transferable skills. But if the niche is sustainable, you might be better off as you could become the "wise old Obi Wan" of the industry.

The people who I think have the biggest problem are those in dead end jobs or jobs in churn and burn industries who haven't risen to a level commensurate with their position. Or to put it another way, ideally you do not want to be 40 years old looking for a job that a 22 year old right out of college can do.
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Old 06-22-2008, 03:14 PM
Lamar Mundane Lamar Mundane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msmith537

I'm sorry, but you don't know what you are talking about. Nobody works at IBM or GE as "undersecretary of the company picnic" or whatever. They work in specific departments like sales, marketing, accounting and so on. They also work in specific industries, of which those companies are the leaders. My dad, for example, spent his entire career working for GE selling and marketing large industrial systems. He's in his 60s and retired but is now involved in a friends start-up as the marketing guy which he wouldn't be able to do without a) having his big-company sales experience b) having the street cred from working at GE and c) having made the conections through his work with GE in the first place.
Actually, I do know what I'm talking about. I've been in a hiring position at a time when a very large IBM location began downsizing. I saw IBM employees every day, and almost all of them were useless at anything other than exactly what they used to do. They had no concept of what it is like to work in an entreprenuerial environment without huge piles of cash to fund any venture they planned.

Your point about large companies having departments that focus on a single market segment is perfect. Small companies (the ones that most people work in) don't have the luxury of that kind of specialization. Most have one sales force and one marketing department that has to serve the entire company.

Look, the best people (and I'm sure your Dad was one of them) don't lose their jobs in their 40's. The ones we're talking about here are no different than the auto workers who have done the same job all their life when their plant closes - they are fish out of water.
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  #26  
Old 06-22-2008, 04:23 PM
Manda JO Manda JO is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamar Mundane
The best kind of jobs to have are the ones that require industry knowledge, and the more narrow the industry the better.
I would disagree with this. My dad's entire career has been in a very narrow industry--project manager for a specific type of defense contracting--where as my mom's career is much broader--cost accounting/database management for large manufacturing companies. My dad's career has been much more erratic than my mom's: when the industry is hot, he has more job offers than he can stand because there's only a few hundred people (if that) in the world with his experience, but he's also had a couple periods of long-term unemployment. My mom, on the other hand, hasn't had to "job hunt" in decades: when she's wanted to leave a position, she's handled it by calling people she knows. A limited supply of a skill set only provides job security if there is also a great demand.
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Old 06-22-2008, 04:36 PM
Lamar Mundane Lamar Mundane is offline
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I think you're taking my example of a narrow field a little to the extreme. I don't mean being the most knowledgeable person in the world regarding left-handed pencil sharpeners - more like "hospital administration software". That is a narrow field that few have knowledge of, and having a long list of contacts and an understanding of the issues means a lot more to a company than a fresh-faced MBA does.
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Old 06-22-2008, 06:52 PM
Chimera Chimera is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamar Mundane
I think you're taking my example of a narrow field a little to the extreme. I don't mean being the most knowledgeable person in the world regarding left-handed pencil sharpeners - more like "hospital administration software". That is a narrow field that few have knowledge of, and having a long list of contacts and an understanding of the issues means a lot more to a company than a fresh-faced MBA does.
Sadly, my 17 years of IT experience has shown me that Management tends to discount the value of Business Knowledge in their IT people.
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Old 06-22-2008, 08:44 PM
Green Bean Green Bean is offline
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One issue that may come into play is concern about older people having a problem being supervised by younger people.

If a 50 year old guy is applying for a job where his boss will be a 30 year old hotshot, it's pretty reasonable to be a little worried that the older guy will be like "I'm not letting some punk-ass kid boss me around!"

Naturally, nobody should assume that this will be the attitude of the applicant. But exploring the possibility of this kind of friction can be pretty tricky, and bringing up age in any way can trigger accusations of age discrimination. So it might seem easier to hire someone younger and (theoretically) avoid the problem altogether.
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Old 06-22-2008, 09:15 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamar Mundane
Actually, I do know what I'm talking about. I've been in a hiring position at a time when a very large IBM location began downsizing. I saw IBM employees every day, and almost all of them were useless at anything other than exactly what they used to do. They had no concept of what it is like to work in an entreprenuerial environment without huge piles of cash to fund any venture they planned.

Your point about large companies having departments that focus on a single market segment is perfect. Small companies (the ones that most people work in) don't have the luxury of that kind of specialization. Most have one sales force and one marketing department that has to serve the entire company.
I think it depends on the company and the individual. Being a jack of all trades can be just as restricting as being over specialized if you can't merge it all into a cohesive work history. Big companies are bureaucratic and rigid but they are also more stable. Small entrepreneurial companies can be exciting and can potentially provide a lot of growth, but they can be very risky. And while you can learn a lot of different things at a small company, you aren't necessarily learning the right way to do them.

Also, compare my current job with a Fortune 500 company against my last job in a consulting firm. I'm working in the same field (Google "litigation consulting"). The difference is that now I work for just one client:

Fortune 500 company:
PROs:
-Name recognition
-Potential to move within the company to a different group in a different field
-Management experience in a structured environment
-Exposure to a wider variety of projects
-Better WLB

CONs:
-Rigid, structured environment
-Bureaucratic and impersonal (I get emails from departmental mailboxes, not
-Not very glamorous
-Not as much room to advance short term
people)


Mid-sized consulting firm:
PROs:
-Everyone knows everyone
-Colegial environment
-Lots of perks - expensed meals, happy hours, travel
-Clear promotion track

CONs:
-Nearly impossible to move out of a senior directors P&L into another group
-Complete lack of managerial competance. Promotions based on favoritism, time worked and hours billed.
-Siloed into one type of project run by your practice area
-No pretense that you have a personal life that can't be intruded on at a moment's notice


So I don't know. My last job was both more fun and more miserable, however from a practical standpoint, me and my coworkers were learning to master a single software product provide by a single vendor (IOW "left-handed pencil sharpeners"). They were also learning a singular "up or out" management style that only works in an environment where you can bully your subordinates with the implied threat of "if you don't work your ass off for me, you won't work on my projects again and you'll be fired once your utilization drops." Not to mention that "management" consists of a pool of a dozen directors pulling several dozen staff consultants in a million different directions with no planning or foresight.

My new job is a lot lamer, but I am getting a lot better experience actually MANAGING a team. And I'm also getting a lot of exposure to a variety of different types of projects so when I do look to find something new in 2-3 years, I'll have a much better toolbox of experience to take with me.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamar Mundane
I think you're taking my example of a narrow field a little to the extreme. I don't mean being the most knowledgeable person in the world regarding left-handed pencil sharpeners - more like "hospital administration software". That is a narrow field that few have knowledge of, and having a long list of contacts and an understanding of the issues means a lot more to a company than a fresh-faced MBA does.
An MBA gets you in the door and gives you additional tools once you are there. Over time, THAT is what will get you ahead.

Right now I manage lot of people who have or are preparing for PMP (Project Management Professional) certifications. A 200 multiple choice test cannot compare with a 2 year degree consisting of working on team projects and presentations, countless business case studies, finance, accounting, marketing, business operations, etc.

At my old consulting firm, we tried hiring one (she was in her 40s) and she was a total disaster. She kept trying to apply a PM framework to projects she had little to no understanding of and was eventually let go. We did work together setting up a training program (me designing it and her essentially taking a role as my admin scheduling appointments) after which she told me "I hoped you were able to get some good project management experience from that." Sure. I mean other than my degree in civil engineering, my MBA, my 5 years of managment and technology consulting experience at that point and the countless projects I had been a part of, I certainly learned a lot from watching her schedule time with the half dozen or so vendors I told her to call.

Which I guess brings me to my final point. If you work in a company run by a lot of overly enthusiastic 20-somethings with no clue what they are doing, it can be daunting coming in as an experience professional. What you think is wisdom can often be percieved as not being a team player. Of course, that's what happened with most of the dot coms.
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  #31  
Old 06-22-2008, 09:33 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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I had one boss who actually told me what he was thinking, lawsuits be damned.

His reasoning was, once you've had 10-15 years in the workforce, you should have enough established contacts that you'll generate sales. If you aren't actually bringing in business, there are plenty of bright, talented, energetic people ready to take your place.

He was a real survival-of-the-fittest type, and it came back to haunt him. But he's not alone. Most of my former client contacts wound up in positions where they were trying to sell me something rather than buy my services.
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  #32  
Old 06-22-2008, 09:42 PM
MLS MLS is offline
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Simple answer: Because often those doing the hiring are young. And/or prejudiced. And because they can.

I was let go from a major corporation two years ago. My job was eliminated. I was 60. The only other person in the department whose job was eliminated was a person in his late 50s. I was the only female in the department other than a secretary. I strongly believe that the people in charge of the department at that time simply didn't want older people, and females, in positions of authority. In preparation for my job being eliminated the young snot who was my boss simply kept giving me less and less significant work to do, including specifically telling me NOT to do certain challenging things, taking away responsibilities that I had handled just fine, to all accounts, for several years. I didn't fight him, and simply continued to do the best job I could on everything I was handed. When I still didn't quit, I was let go.

Can I prove that? Maybe, maybe not. But it was close enough that my lawyer was able to convince them to give me a much, much, much large separation payoff than they had planned on.

I job-searched in my field for 6 months. Every single person who saw my resume would say something to the effect of "really impressive. You have a lot of skills that we need." I tried to look as young and professional as possible, but some things you can't hide. I did fine on the telephone interviews, but I always came in second after the in-person interviews. Can I prove that all of those jobs went to someone younger only because of age? No, I can't. But I strongly suspect it.

Employers often think that a 55+ aged person is only going to work for a few more years anyway and then retire, so it's somehow not worth the effort. Hah. How many 20- or 30-somethings last nearly ten years at a job? Few. It's simple shortsightedness.

I finally did get another job, in another field, in a small company. Their only reservation about hiring me was that I was overqualified and might leave after a few months when a job in my previous field came through. As if. I'm still there, year and a half later. I now have a window office.

Some day, maybe, people in hiring-and-firing positions will realize the many benefits of hiring older people, especially women. They are not going to run off, starry-eyed, to get married. They don't need maternity leave. They don't even get cranky once a month. They don't have to leave early to pick up toddlers from day care, or stay home to take little Sally or Timmy to the doctor because of yet another ear infection. They are not going to step on people to climb the corporate ladder. You can check out decades of work and life experience.

Please note that I'm not saying that employers should discriminate against people with families, either. Most workplaces are not as family-friendly as they should be.
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  #33  
Old 06-22-2008, 09:43 PM
Clothahump Clothahump is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrambledeggs
I seem to constantly hear that once you turn 40, employers don't want to hire you.

I've gotten advice that you should start your own business, or enter your own profession (accounting, etc), so that you don't have to get 'hired' again, if you lose your job later in life.

Today in the NY Times, a 50 year old former executive is waiting tables:

"agencies are “not hiring middle-aged people, especially with his qualifications, when they’re not sure what’s going to happen next.”"

So my question is WHY is there such a negative response from employers for those applying over 40?
I think it's probably because we are experienced and we ain't cheap.

Last edited by Clothahump; 06-22-2008 at 09:43 PM..
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  #34  
Old 06-22-2008, 10:38 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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Companies that strictly inbreed are limiting their knowledge base. Other places have different approaches and different knowledge sets that may well help you.
Most people move jobs quite often nowadays. The idea that they wont hire you because you wont be there for 40 years is ridiculous. Nobody will be.
Companies that hire 65 years old or older, do not have to pay health insurance. That is a big financial savings.
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  #35  
Old 06-23-2008, 12:08 AM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat

So, anyone who is "old" and fired/laid off, is by easy logic, someone who was overpaid for work that he wasn't good enough to hold.
That might have been true 20 years ago, but it isn't today. I've never seen any prejudice, in the electronics industry at least, about people laid off. Increasingly, whole divisions or projects get cut, both the good and the bad. Companies cutting back have got to lay off good people as well as bad. In fact a good number of hiring managers have gotten laid off themselves.

When my company canceled a big project, the members of the project were at risk, and since we're a good company, we had an internal job fair for them. The problem is that quite a few of the best people offered jobs had quickly found even better ones outside. I know some people from IBM, recognized as leading experts, who got cut when a fab got closed.

This is a big advantage to living in a place with lots of companies rather than just a few. Job hopping is a lot simpler and less disruptive, and the companies like it not having to pay relocation.
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  #36  
Old 06-25-2008, 08:26 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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I think the biggest reason is the perception that older people are past their prime. My friend and I were talking about that today. My current job is with a company with a much older and more "family centric" workforce. My impression (as a 35 year old) looking at these people is that they don't look like "winners". They look like a bunch of slow moving middle aged people with rumpled clothes and untucked shirts, taking naps in the break room, biding their time until retirement. Compare that to my last job where just about anyone at that age is a pretty senior guy and has the whole "I'm a rich powerful old guy" thing going on.

And quite frankly, an older person coming in at a junior level at my old company probably wouldn't be successful in my group. They most likely wouldn't like the long hours, travel and having to deal with a bunch of 20 and 30 something managers who are in love with their own hype. It's the type of job where we hire armies of kids out of campus recruiting every year knowing a third wont be there in 18 months.
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  #37  
Old 06-25-2008, 08:32 PM
Beware of Doug Beware of Doug is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLS
[Older workers] are not going to step on people to climb the corporate ladder.
And there you have a reason for a good bit of the prejudice against them. Ambition nowadays often means a cutthroat attitude. If you see through all that, you're just not going to fit into most office cultures.
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  #38  
Old 06-25-2008, 09:27 PM
MLS MLS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beware of Doug
And there you have a reason for a good bit of the prejudice against them. Ambition nowadays often means a cutthroat attitude. If you see through all that, you're just not going to fit into most office cultures.
Yeah, you might just focus on, you know, getting the job done?
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  #39  
Old 06-25-2008, 11:26 PM
Beware of Doug Beware of Doug is offline
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Uh...My point was that younger people are more willing to maneuver, suck up, and play politics and hardball. Assuming they do good work too, this tends to impress the higher-ups and reinforce their values. Sometimes more so than experienced old hands who may have too much perspective. Especially if the boss doesn't have as much.

Last edited by Beware of Doug; 06-25-2008 at 11:29 PM..
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  #40  
Old 06-26-2008, 06:27 AM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLS
Yeah, you might just focus on, you know, getting the job done?

It's Corporate America. Who gives a shit about "the job"? Your "job" is to do what your boss asks you to do, do it the best you can and put on a facade like it's the most brilliant request ever (provided it isn't illegal or too unethical).

Office politics is also part of any job whether you like it or not. Given the choice between me or some other guy getting a raise, promoted or keeping his job in tough times, I choose me every time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Beware of Doug
Uh...My point was that younger people are more willing to maneuver, suck up, and play politics and hardball. Assuming they do good work too, this tends to impress the higher-ups and reinforce their values. Sometimes more so than experienced old hands who may have too much perspective. Especially if the boss doesn't have as much.
Have you actually worked with younger people (under 25 or so)? They often act like college freshmen with no clue as to how to act in a corporate environment.

But yes, younger people do tend to bring a more irrational enthusiasm for their job. They still suffer from the dilusion that if they work until 11pm every night and weekends, they will quickly rise up the ladder and be VP or partner by age 30, driving a Porsche and making a million dollars.

Last edited by msmith537; 06-26-2008 at 06:31 AM..
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  #41  
Old 06-26-2008, 06:57 AM
GomiBoy GomiBoy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manda JO
I would refine this a little bit to say that employers often avoid hiring people over 40+ in an open-market competitive placement situation. But many, many jobs are not filled that way: post 40, most job changes seem to come about as a result of being recruited or networking: post 40, you are more likely to have a specialized skill set and/or a network of people that you have worked for/with in the past. My mom and dad have both changed jobs many times since they were 40, but almost never have they responded to an ad or sent in a letter/resume (or if they did, it was as a formality, well into negotiations).
I would push this a bit further - hiring in my line of business would mean I had heard of them through my network. Networking is the way senior jobs get got, not through applying via email or snail mail, and with the competition between my network and in-house promotions, I'd say someone coming in from the cold wouldn't stand a chance.

I would assume someone over 40 isn't starting from go, and if their network is so poor they can't use it to get a job or at least a reference, or they are so crap that they don't have a network, then it's unlikely they'd do much for me either as their employer.

The last 3 jobs I had were all gotten through networking. And I'm only 35.

Last edited by GomiBoy; 06-26-2008 at 06:57 AM..
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  #42  
Old 06-26-2008, 09:02 AM
phall0106 phall0106 is offline
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Last night, as I was waiting for a phone call, I thought of this thread. Then this happened. So, I guess to answer the OP, hell if I know.

--phall0106, a 41 one year old woman who is at least 50 lbs. overweight.
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